Chadds Ford supervisors disagree on monument

Chadds Ford Township supervisors aren't unified over what to do about the Vietnam monument along Route 202. Supervisors Deborah Love and Keith Klaver are fully behind keeping it in Chadds Ford, but George Thorpe is not enthusiastic.

The monument — situated on Hineman family property in the parking area of the former Sovereign Bank — was dedicated in November 1966 and may be the first Vietnam memorial in the country.

It was dedicated to the men of Delaware County who served in the war, but has been neglected for years. The property itself may be sold and, if so, the monument would likely have to be moved.

Thorpe is not convinced that Chadds Ford is the proper venue.  He said in a telephone interview that he’s first concerned because there’s been no offer from the Hineman family for the township to take the monument.

But Thorpe remained noncommittal even when asked directly if he’d be willing for the township to take ownership if it were offered.

“I don’t know,” Thorpe said. “I would like it to be where it is more prominently displayed, which can be almost anywhere other than where it is.”

He said he would “acquiesce” to Delaware County if council wanted ownership.

Thorpe also said having the memorial in Chadds Ford would be confusing to some.

“I’m just afraid that putting it on our site, wherever it might go, will confuse people because of the battlefield. They’ll go to the battlefield thinking that’s where it is and that will be a criticism.”

However, Klaver was emphatic about keeping the monument in Chadds Ford.

“I cannot think of a better use for township property than honoring our veterans of any war. I would be extremely pleased if we could accept it from the Hineman family and have the veterans’ group assist us in placing a monument of that type on township property.”

Klaver qualified his position saying members of the HARB would have to be comfortable with the monument being placed on township-owned property.

Where all three supervisors do agree, however, is that Love should contact property owner Ron Hineman to find out what he and the family intend to do with the monument.

State Rep. Stephen Barrar, several local businessmen and a scoutmaster also want to keep the monument in the township.

Barrar said it would be a disservice to move the monument to another part of the county.

“[Chadds Ford] is really where this monument belongs, whether it’s at the battlefield park or the township building. Because it originated in Chadds Ford, it should stay in Chadds Ford. It would be sad to take it from Chadds Ford when its history has been here even though the majority of its history has been unknown to all of us. It’s time to bring the statue into the light.”

He added that it’s incredible that a monument that could be the oldest Vietnam memorial in the United States is in “our back yard.” Moving it to another township, he said, would take away from its history.

Also supporting keeping the monument in Chadds Ford are businessmen Dave Kelleher, of David Dodge, and Andy Variale, owner of Pescatore’s restaurant.

Both men are offering to hold a fund-raiser to pay for a move, but Kelleher took it a step further.

“The cause is so proper that I’m making the commitment that I will get that done…We haven’t gotten to the point where we’ve talked about what the actual cost would be, but if we’re talking about a couple thousand dollars, I’ll take care of it. If it costs more than that and it means we need to have a fund-raiser, we’ll do that.”

Kelleher added that he thinks the township building is the perfect location.

“What better place than the serene surroundings of the Chadds Ford Township building? It’s a perfect place for that. It would look terrific there. It would enhance the property itself. More importantly, it could be taken care of properly...”

Ray Coe, scoutmaster of Troop 31 in Chadds Ford, is also supportive. Coe, a Vietnam veteran, said the scouts would take part in a fund-raiser if need be, and that maintaining the monument could become a scout project.

Another Vietnam veteran who wants the monument to stay in Chadds Ford is Dan Martin. Martin, who lives in Springhill Farm, served in ‘Nam from December ’67 to December ’68 and is still dealing with issues related to Agent Orange, a carcinogenic chemical defoliant used during the war.

“Considering it might be the oldest, it should stay in Chadds Ford,” Martin said.

Chadds Ford resident Jack Tobin was an F105 pilot who flew missions over Vietnam during the war. He’s currently in Florida, but was amazed when he learned that Chadds Ford might be home to the first Vietnam memorial in the country.

“Wow,” he said in a telephone interview, “I’m flabbergasted. Chadds Ford is such a little burgh, but I’m proud to be from there. I can’t wait to get back and see it.”

The story is getting some national interest. The editor of Vietnam Magazine is preparing a story for that publication.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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2 Responses to “Chadds Ford supervisors disagree on monument”

  1. KabobKats says:

    I agree to keep it in Chadds Ford. It is where it belongs.

  2. KSKing says:

    If the Hineman family would like to have the Vietnam monument moved, Brandywine Baptist Church would consider the placement of it in the church cemetery near the Veterans marker. This option would keep the monument in Chadds Ford Township in proximity to the Brandywine Battlefield Park and the township building. The recently renovated Veterans monument and lighted American flag would make this location very appropriate.

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