WEST CHESTER (November 27) – Members of Downingtown VFW Post 845 presented $8,000 to the nonprofit organization, the Friends of Medal of Honor Grove, at state Senator Andy Dinniman’s West Chester District Office on Monday.
The VFW made the first donation to the Friends organization’s Sponsor A Hero program, a restricted fund that will be used to add the remaining names to the Grove so that all recipients are properly represented.
Downingtown VFW Post 845 members and Commander Miguel Hernandez presented a check to Wally Nunn, Chairman of the Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove and Medal of Honor Recipient General James E. Livingston.
“It is hard-earned money by all of our members and we wanted to make sure that goes to supporting our veterans and to a volunteer organization that does not use it for administrative costs,” Hernandez said. “Our post is always ready to reach out to the community and on a mission to reach out to all of our veterans.”
“The VFW is not just a bar. That is only a small part of it. Our goal is reach out to the veteran community and the local community.” said Thomas Ames, a Vietnam veteran and Adjutant Commander of Downingtown VFW Post 845. “And for those who lost their lives in the line of duty and didn’t get that recognition, the Medal of Honor means a lot.”
Nunn thanked Hernandez and the members of Downingtown VFW Post 845 and said the Friends organization looked forward to its ongoing efforts and work with veterans and post members.
The 52-acre Grove, located at the Freedoms Foundations headquarters, just off Route 23 near Phoenixville, is the nation’s oldest memorial site dedicated to Medal of Honor recipients. It is divided into one-acre plots for each state, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. Each plot features an obelisk and metal plaques set in the ground, honoring Medal of Honor recipients dating back to the Civil War.
Dinniman became involved in this project in 2012 because the Grove had fallen into disrepair, and there were questions about its future. He worked to organize a massive community cleanup of the site that was attended by more than 1,000 local residents, students, families, veterans and volunteer organizations, including Downingtown VFW Post 845, that fall.
As a result of the cleanup, local volunteers and Medal of Honor recipients came together to form The Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the care and maintenance of the site.
Since then, the Friends of the Grove group has organized several community cleanups of the site, raised significant funds for its upkeep and taken on a series of improvements, such as the completion of a new asphalt road and the addition of name plaques of Medal of Honor recipients that were damaged or missing.
On May 20 of this year, the names of 35 posthumous Medal of Honor recipients from Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq were officially enshrined in the historic memorial site. According to the Friends of the Grove organization, 180 names have yet to go on obelisks and 395 on ground plaques.
“I reflect back and recall when the Grove started many years ago and then the site went unkept for a while there, but the Senator and Wally really stepped up to the plate and the community got reengaged. Now the VFW has stepped up to the plate to help keep the ball rolling,” Livingston said. “What is happening now is indicative of veterans and what they stand for. They never turn their back on their country.”
For information about the Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove visit www.friendsmohgrove.org.
For information about Downingtown VFW Post 845 visit http://www.vfwpost845.org.