35 by 5/3
Thanks to everyone who has contributed thus far! The campiagn is off the ground and we are urging our friends and corporate sponsors to give the Vietnam Veterans a bump in our $75,000 campaign. Our ultimate goal is to present a (giant) check for $75,000 on Memorial Day to the families and friends of the 646 veterans who are on the Philadelphia Wall of Names.
The projected timeline to reach the $75,000 goal needs a May 3 "bump" of $35,000.
The $75,000 goal is in support of the Second Phase of the "Duty to Remember" Campaign for the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (PVVMF). This amount would help close the gap for the last $126,000 needed to complete the $1 million renovations.
(Artist's rendition of the completed renovations)
A HIDDEN TREASURE
The Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial is truly one of the city's hidden treasures. For veterans, it recalls the 646 Philadelphians who lost their lives in one of the most protracted conflicts in American history. Too often though, the Memorial has gone unnoticed and rarely is a visitor's destination. In large part, this stems from the previously enclosed nature of the Memorial.
(Photo from the current work site)
The second phase has begun. On March 31, 2014, workers used a monument crane to gingerly removed the one-ton granite panels from the "Wall of Scenes" at the Memorial in preparation for opening the Spruce Street side of the site to deter vandalism and create greater awareness. This is the first major step in the second phase of the renovation project, which calls for the creation of a channel with a direct line of sight from Spruce Street to the "Wall of Names" on the south side of the enclosed amphitheater. The 10 five-foot-by-seven-foot panels, which depict well-known scenes from the Vietnam War, will be stored on site until the excavation is completed.
(Panels being removed in preparation for the new open concept)
"We're about $126,000 short of our goal to complete the project in its entirety, but are hopeful that when the public sees the progress we've made that it will generate support," notes PVVMF President Terry Williamson. The PVVMF in fact is making an appeal for concrete, which can be seen by the "Got Concrete" signs displayed at the site at Spruce Street and Columbus Blvd.
(Sign with "got concrete?" appeal - a major need for this phase)
The renovations will open the Spruce Street side of the Memorial to form a new passageway into the site and appropriately create a focal point on the wall of names, honoring the 646 Philadelphians who gave their lives.
The first phase of the project was completed in 2009 and included new paving, new lighting, landscaping and a security system, as well as refurbishment of the wall of names -- all to reverse two decades of decline. For the first time, a POW/MIA monument was added on the site to recognize the contribution of those brave Americans. Both phases are based on a new design created by Cope Linder Architects of Philadelphia.
(Dedication of Phase 1)
The Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (PVVMF) launched the "Duty to Remember" Campaign in 2007 for the preservation and protection of the Memorial. The campaign coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Memorial and following a vigorous fund-raising effort, a total of $500,000 toward a $1 million goal was raised. Contributors included philanthropist Gerry Lenfest, PECO Energy Company, Board of Directors of City Trusts and city trade unions, as well as city and state grants. The Philadelphia Daily News provided major in-kind support by preparing a multi-page insert on the Memorial.
The design as envisioned by original architect Perry M. Morgan was an enclosed amphitheater that facilitated the sanctity veterans sought but created other problems scarcely imaginable at the time. The project to open the Spruce Street side of the Memorial will create a more accessible and inviting Memorial for the general public. At the same time, the project will create a deterrent to help halt the vandalism and vulgar behavior that often went undetected within the previously secluded site.
FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
The importance of the Memorial is incalculable, not only to veterans but as part of the legacy of service that has always characterized Philadelphia. And time is fleeting for Vietnam veterans. Just like their Korean and World War II brethren, these veterans will fade away all too soon and we must make it possible for new generations to discover and appreciate anew their sacrifice.