Fifty years ago, the Freedoms Foundation took another step in its mission to promote engaged citizenship by creating the Medal of Honor Grove. A tribute to those who have received our nation’s highest honor, the Grove serves as a beautiful place of remembrance for the brave souls who risked—and sometimes, sacrificed—everything.

 

Medal of Honor Grove

“The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. It is most often presented to its recipient by the President of the United States in the name of Congress.” Congressional Medal of Honor Society  

More times than not it is presented posthumously. The history of the Medal of Honor dates back to the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln approved legislation on Dec 21, 1861 on behalf of the Navy. Legislation for the Army medal was approved on July 12, 1862.

The model of the Medal of Honor Grove was conceived by Kenneth Wells, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, E.F. Hutton, General Omar Bradley, and others at Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. The acreage for the Grove was dedicated on its’ campus in 1964 to honor all who received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The Grove is the oldest living memorial honoring our nation’s Medal of Honor recipients and is located at Freedoms Foundation’s headquarters in Valley Forge. The natural woodland is designed as a memorial to fewer than the 3,500 recipients of our nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.  An acre of land is designated for each of the 50 states as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. In 1985 the Ancient Order of Hibernians erected a 53rd monument dedicated to more than 150 recipients who received the medal but were not citizens of the United States and therefore had no home state. 

Each state acre has a seven foot obelisk centered on a twenty five foot square brick plaza. The recipients accredited by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society to that state are identified by name, rank and service on the obelisk. Each recipient is additionally honored at the acre with a ground marker engraved with their name, organization, date and location of the act of valor.

California, Mississippi, Nevada, and Ohio were the first states to be dedicated into the Medal of Honor Grove on May 30, 1968. Hundreds attended the dedication of these acres immediately followed by a luncheon. Recipients Gino J. Merli, WWII (PA) and Thomas J. Kelly, WWII, (NY) participated in the program.

 

    

The first obelisk dedicated was made of fiberglass. With the help of sponsoring organizations and donors, some have since replaced those fiberglass obelisks with stone ones. To date, there are 22 fiberglass obelisks still in need of replacement.

Also in the Grove is the Chaplains Memorial which was dedicated in 1979 and honors several chaplains who received the Medal of Honor. The Henry Knox Museum was dedicated in 1966 and is devoted to the recipients. Tours are given upon request.

In 2011, the Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove, a community organization was formed. Its mission is to raise funds to maintain, enhance, and improve the Grove. To learn more about the Friends of the Grove, visit www.friendsmohgrove.org