Nation’s oldest memorial for Medal recipients was the focus of the day’s cleaning efforts
Philadelphia, PA – On Thursday, July 14, in the spirit of civic engagement and community service inspired by the upcoming 2016 Democratic National Convention, more than 60 Independence Blue Cross associates participated in a day-long service project at the Medal of Honor Grove in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Independence volunteers — who are part of the company’s Blue Crew, one of the most respected employee volunteer programs in the Philadelphia region — led a service project to clean and beautify this special area of remembrance while also polishing obelisks that recognize Medal of Honor recipients.
Open for more than 50 years, the Medal of Honor Grove is owned by the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge and maintained by the Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove. The Grove is the nation’s oldest operating memorial dedicated to the more than 3,400 Medal of Honor recipients, spanning 52 acres and representing each of the states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. The Ancient Order of Hibernians also erected a 53rd monument dedicated to the more than 150 recipients of the Medal of Honor who had no home state. Every acre of the Grove features a tree with a marker containing the name, rank, unit, and date and place of action for each Medal of Honor recipient. In addition to the trees, each acre also houses an obelisk that resembles the Washington Monument and is engraved with the State seal, a dedication plaque, and a list of Medal of Honor recipients from that state.
The Medal of Honor Grove was selected for this service project as the 19 Governors attending the upcoming Convention — which is expected to draw more than 50,000 visitors — will receive a replica of the obelisk honoring their respective states’ Medal of Honor recipients. This special memento, coupled with the service project, aims to raise awareness of the Medal of Honor Grove, which is the United States’ only comprehensive memorial to those who have received the nation’s highest military honor.
“Since 1938, Independence Blue Cross has served the Philadelphia region,” said Stephen P. Fera, senior vice president of Public Affairs at Independence. “Community service is at the core of our mission, and we felt that the best way to give back in the spirit of the upcoming Convention was to honor those whose service provides us with the freedom we enjoy in the United States today. Independence is proud to honor these heroes and help further spotlight the Philadelphia region, its rich history, and all it has to offer the thousands of visitors.”
Among the more than 60 associates volunteering from Independence Blue Cross were two great-great grandchildren of Medal of Honor recipients. Kim Wagner, manager, Customer Support Center, is a descendant of Pierre Leon, a French immigrant who joined the United States Navy in 1861 and was awarded the Medal of Honor for valorous action in the Civil War. Matthew White, lead business systems analyst, is a descendant of George Platt, for whom the George C. Platt Memorial Bridge in Philadelphia was renamed. Mr. Platt was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valorous actions at Gettysburg.
“Those who have received the Medal of Honor are among our bravest and most rightly honored United States citizens,” said Michael E. Di Yeso, President and CEO of Freedoms Foundation. “The Conventions, as part of the democratic process, are a reminder of all that our military veterans have fought to protect the United States and we are grateful to Independence Blue Cross for helping to highlight the Medal of Honor Grove during this important time for our region. The time and effort given by Independence Blue Cross’ Blue Crew serve as an ongoing sign of thanks and respect for all who have served. On their behalf and on behalf of Freedoms Foundation and Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove, we are grateful.”
For more information about Independence Blue Cross, please visit www.ibx.com. For more information about the Medal of Honor Grove, please visit www.freedomsfoundation.org/medal-of-honor-grove. For more information about The Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove, please visit www.friendsmohgrove.org.
About Freedoms Foundation
Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge was founded in 1949 and has been conducting civic education programs for students and graduate/professional development programs for teachers since 1965. The mission of Freedoms Foundation is to educate the American people about their rights and responsibilities as citizens, honor acts of civic virtue, and challenge all people to reject apathy and get involved. Since our founding, 5 million students and teachers have been impacted by our citizenship programs.
About The Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove
The Friends of the Grove is a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to maintain, improve and enhance the Medal of Honor Grove.