Our initial group formed as an Honor Guard and Rifle Team to provide honors and a Military escort for the American Flag and Armed Forces of the United States flags during ceremonies and community awareness prior to the ground breaking and dedication of the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial on October 27, 1987. Two dozen men and women attended various ceremonies, presentations, fund raising and the first of many funeral service for a POW/MIA returned from Viet Nam.
By dedication day this band of brothers had provided Honors for over 100 events, raised $7,500.00 to sponsor fifteen names during Operation Brotherly Love, incorporated and had a membership of close to 300 members. We have grown, not only in membership but in purpose and dedication too, the Veterans community and also the civilian community.
Two of our basic principals took form during those years and have become interlocked in the way we present ourselves to other communities. These tenants are 'Its Our Duty to Remember' and 'You are Not Forgotten'.
The first ten years saw the number of names on the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial increase from 615 at the inception of the plan for a memorial to 630 on dedication day. The current number stands at 646 Philadelphians that gave the ultimate sacrifice. Our continued support of the POW-MIA issues has helped keep this in the conscience of the countries politicians and the public. The number of Missing in Action has declined from 2857 to about 1978 names.
The events we sponsor have taken on a life of their own. The 10K run in 1990 had less than 250 runners and just a dozen sponsors, our tuition aid presented seven awards, we prepared eight food baskets and we hadn't begun our deep relation and commitment to the Gold Star Mothers and Saint Christophers Hospital for Children as of yet. That year was the second year we sponsored a lottery calendar selling just over 900 of the available 1000 calendars.
Today we take deep pride in stating that our 10 K run is a success with well over 500 runners, we have consistently provided tuition aid awards to 30 students each year, this year a record 33 baskets of food was distributed to as many families. Our Gold Star Mothers and Saint Christophers receive substantial donations from us each year.
In 1995 we were fortunate enough to find a building to call our own, we secured a mortgage said our fond farewells to the McMenamy American Legion Post that provided us a meeting place for the previous seven years. With the help of many of our members the former bank building was transformed into the HOOCH.
With the purchase of the HOOCH we now became a member in a neighborhood community that was already full of other civic and veteran organizations such as Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legions, string bands, outboard motor clubs and youth organizations all of which opened their collective organizations and welcomed us into their community. We immediately began to respond to the community's unity by joining the Memorial Day celebrations and hosting open house on Memorial Day for the community.
Our organization is filled with men from every branch of the armed forces, every rank can be represented from the Private or Seaman to Flag Officers. The only real thing we have in common is the desire and commitment to never forget the men and women that have died in the service of our United States of America.
'It's Our Duty to Remember' the 646 sons, brothers, cousin, or friend from the neighborhoods of Philadelphia.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE
PHILADELPHIA VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL SOCIETY