Valley Forge Students Remember
On May 10 a remarkable ceremony was held at Valley Forge High School. A brand new Viet Nam Veterans Memorial, near the front entrance, was dedicated. The presentation ceremony held in the auditorium was virtually packed with grateful community members. The story behind this was truly extraordinary. Members of the History Club noticed a plaque in the hallway of the school that commemorated 15 students from Valley Forge High School who had lost their lives while fighting in the Viet Nam War. They felt that now 50 years later, these former students deserved more attention and respect for their ultimate sacrifice. It turns out that 15 students killed in action was just about the highest number for any school district in the country.
It is really amazing how once something starts, the momentum can take a life all its own. Through the efforts of a core group of people, soon the word spread about their intentions, and responses came from near and far from those touched by the idea of honoring the memory of these veterans who sacrificed their lives so long ago. The Global Parma Community can never be underestimated- so many people have grown up in our community, moved all over the world, yet never forget their years spent here.
Clark J. Dougan, VFHS Class of 1967, was the keynote speaker at this event. He has written many books about the Viet Nam War, and was the co-creator of the award winning PBS documentary, "Fathers and Sons". He lives in Brookline, MA these days, and he mentioned that he had not been in the Valley Forge High School auditorium for more than 50 years. His thoughtful address, as well as that of Mary Ann Becksted, sister of Sgt. Ronald J. Becksted, and Judy Kilbane Bizga along with Kevin Kilbane, siblings of LCPL Terrance J. Kilbane, was truly moving and very inspirational for everyone in attendance.
At the conclusion of this very emotional ceremony in the auditorium, there was a procession outside to unveil the new memorial, which is actually 3 separate monuments. Everyone in the community should take the time to visit this thoughtful memorial envisioned and made real by contemporary students of a high school with a long tradition of pride and success of those who attended since 1961. These 15 who gave their lives will never be forgotten.
Daniel P. McCarthy
I am the publisher of the Parma Observer. Lifetime resident of Parma for over 50 years.