A monument dedicated on Nov. 11, 1966, “to the men of Delaware County for their valiant service in Vietnam” was recently discovered beneath brush in an old bank parking lot in Chadds Ford, Pa., an area better known for memorializing the service of soldiers in another war: the 1777 Battle of Brandywine— which might help explain why it has a Revolutionary War–era cannon mounted on top of it.
The discovery of the stone memorial has sparked a great deal of interest. “Chadds Ford’s mystery monument may be the first memorial in the U.S. dedicated to Vietnam veterans,” said Rich Schwartzman of ChaddsFordLive.com. “But so far, no one has been found with any recollection of its dedication, and public records have revealed no information.” The monument is on private property belonging to a family who also know nothing of its history or existence. According to Schwartzman, the property owner only learned of the monument in August, when reporters contacted him.The monument sits about 15 to 20 feet off the side of Rt. 202 on land that is slated for new commercial development. “Weeds are growing through the cracks of the old bank parking lot, and the monument itself is in poor condition,” said Schwartzman.
Perhaps most intriguing about the monument is its dedication date in 1966. While the conflict was rapidly intensifying in 1966, it was still relatively early in the war. According to Duery Felton, curator of the National Park Service’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection, the Delaware County memorial is now “in the lead” for being the oldest, “with the memorial in Wentzville, Mo., dedicated in 1967, a close second.”
Local and state representatives have discussed whether the memorial should be moved to a more public location, pending the property owner’s approval. “Two local businesses said they will pay for the move or institute local fundraising,” said Schwartzman.
Some have also expressed interest in keeping the memorial where it is, though it is in need of repair. “This monument could become an historic landmark, possibly being the first ever honoring Vietnam veterans,” said Patrick Hughes, a Vietnam veteran who visited the site in August, according to Schwartzman. “So, please, just keep it where it is.”