How appropriate that this weekend Valley Forge will once again teach Americans about courage and sacrifice, with a side order of bipartisanship and community service mixed in.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, there will be a rededication of the Medal of Honor Grove at the Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge. The events mark the end of a months-long community effort to clean up the 52-acre site and the beginning of a new group that will raise funds for improvements and maintenance.
This unique memorial devotes an acre to Medal of Honor recipients from each of the 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. On each one-acre plot is an obelisk, with the state's seal and a list of the names of its medal recipients. Scattered around the acre are small markers that give more details about the heroes, including names, units, and the places where their acts of valor occurred.
The grove was first dedicated by Freedoms Foundation, which promotes good citizenship, in 1964. Unfortunately, the good intentions weren't followed up with the means to keep the 52 acres in good shape.
After stories surfaced last year about the property's rundown condition, State Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D., Chester) stepped up. Using solely private funding, he organized several cleanup days that involved roughly 1,000 volunteers. Working with former Delaware County Council chairman Wallace Nunn, a Republican, he reached out to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society to find ways to maintain and enhance the grounds.
The result was this week's announcement about the creation of the nonprofit Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove. Freedoms Foundation will still own the property, but now the Friends, with Nunn as chairman, will take charge of nurturing the continued community support that this local treasure deserves.
So, on Sunday, thanks to the senator and at least a thousand others, the grove's rebirth officially begins. And the focus of any stories told there can rightfully return to the heroes this beautiful park honors.