Crews will clean up Medal of Honor Grove at Valley Forge

Posted: August 26, 2010

Troops armed with pruners and rakes are being mobilized at the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.

The goal: restoring the Medal of Honor Grove - a 52-acre memorial park dedicated to recipients of America's highest military honor - from an eyesore to a tribute.

Maintenance posses organized by the foundation and by State Sen. Andrew E. Dinniman (D., Chester) are poised to descend on the site. Dinniman said he offered assistance after fielding complaints about the grove's disrepair from constituents, including David C. Dolby, a 1967 Medal of Honor recipient for heroics in the Central Highlands of Vietnam who died recently.

The senator said his "Army for Heroes" would visit the site Oct. 8, 10, and 11. He said more than 100 people had contacted him, including the brother of a Medal of Honor recipient. Many of those people represent groups, making the number of potential volunteers much larger, Dinniman said.

"We haven't even begun our volunteer outreach," he said. "I've been deeply moved by the response . . . it strikes a note of patriotism in the community."

Michael Di Yeso, president of the 60-year-old Freedoms Foundation, an educational organization that held civics classes for about 4,000 people on its 10-building campus last year, said he welcomed the help.

Di Yeso, who says the grove's disrepair is a casualty of the faltering economy, said he had other cleanup groups scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 11, and Oct. 2.

"Everyone wants to help; it's all good," he said.

Dinniman said he wanted to organize a follow-up effort in the spring but was waiting to hear the results of the foundation's strategic plan, expected in the spring.

"The clear consensus from my Senate district is that the grove should remain as it was intended by the founders," Dinniman said, referring to the foundation's suggestions that it might be downsized for financial reasons.

Dinniman said he hoped the foundation would consider a solution that would serve everyone. He said Schuylkill Township, which has open-space money, had expressed interest in the parcel.

A township purchase would preserve the land, give the foundation money to provide perpetual maintenance, and allow the foundation to "continue to use it as their classroom," Dinniman said.

Di Yeso said that was "one of several options we're considering" and that he hoped Dinniman would accept the organization's invitation to attend a planning session Sept. 14 so that dialogue can continue.

Information on volunteering is available on Dinniman's website, http://www.senatordinniman.com, or by calling 610-692-2112, and on the foundation's website, http://www.freedomsfoundation.org, or at 610-933-8825.


Contact staff writer Kathleen Brady Shea at 610-696-3815 or kbrady@phillynews.com.

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