One of the earliest, if not the very first monument dedicated to those who served in Vietnam is about to be rededicated after years of obscurity and neglect.
The monument, a cannon on a stone base, was rediscovered four years ago behind some brush in an unused bank parking lot along Route 202 in Chadds Ford Township. But no one seems to know anything about its origin. Who made it, dedicated it and why remain mysteries.
According to a plaque, the monument was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1966, only two years after the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that committed American fighting forces to Vietnam, and four years before the Tet offensive of ‘68, when about 57, 000 of the 58, 316 dead were still living. The memorial had not been the site of any activity in four decades.
The plaque reads: “To the men of Delaware County for their valiant service in Vietnam.”
It also included a partial quote from Wendell Willkie, the 1940 Republican presidential candidate: “Freedom is an indivisible word. If we want to enjoy it, and fight for it, we must be prepared to extend it to everyone, whether they are rich or poor, whether they agree with us or not…”
Steve Quigley, of Concord Towing, brought the monument to the attention of the media after he rediscovered it while cleaning the area near his business four years ago. It was surrounded by brush and debris in an old bank parking lot diagonally across from Hillman Drive. That location is now part of the Wegmans’ development.
Chadds Ford is better known for the Sept. 11, 1777 Battle of Brandywine, which might be the reason why the monument included a Revolutionary War era cannon.
So far, no one has been found with any recollection of its dedication, and public records have revealed no information.
Since August 2012, some Vietnam veterans, along with Quigley, were looking after this monument by cleaning up weeds, placing of flags and wreaths until construction started at the Brandywine Mills shopping center.
Peter S. Miller, president of Carlino Commercial Development that built the Wegmans and surrounding development. “We’re happy to move the monument to give it a respectful place within our public space of our development. I think it will be a perfect gathering spot, ” Miller said.
The site of the monument is part of a green space between a row of shops and the Wegmans store.
Chapter 67 of Delaware County will be the official host with its president, Bill Gafford, as master of ceremonies.
Ralph W. Galati, Captain, former Air Force POW, Vietnam Veteran of Springfield Delaware County, will be the guest speaker.
By Patrick J. Hughes