Philly Vietnam Memorial Getting New Look

A long-desired makeover of the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial appears to finally be close at hand.

Terry Williamson, president of the memorial's fund board, said yesterday that work is expected to begin in the fall to open the Spruce Street side of the 26-year-old memorial to make it more visible to passers-by.

The Society Hill memorial is walled off by eight 7-foot-high, 5-foot-wide granite panels that feature scenes of the war.

Williamson said the $500,000 remodeling effort would entail having the panels repositioned in two semicircles around the heart of the memorial: the wall that features the names of the 646 local soldiers who died in Vietnam.

A granite block featuring the name of the memorial would also be installed at the site.

"I hope [veterans] will feel that we've finally been able to fulfill the full potential of the memorial by making it more open and accessible to the public," Williamson said.

Williamson said the memorial-fund board began kicking around the idea of opening up the memorial in 2006.

Three years later, the fund board embarked on a separate $500,000 facelift that included the restoration of the weather-beaten wall of names, the installation of a 24-hour video-surveillance system, and the replacement of cracked brick pavers.

The latest effort to improve the memorial received a considerable shot in the arm on Memorial Day, when Mayor Nutter announced that the city would donate $100,000 to the project.

If all goes according to plan, the memorial could be rededicated next spring.

Williamson said the fund board still needs about $126,000 to complete other aspects of the project. Donations can be made on the memorial's website, pvvm.org.

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Vietnam War Veterans