June 14, 2018, Valley Forge-
Coming around the bend,as it were, from Varnum’s headquarters, I saw a tall castle-like structure, fronting a sizable cemetery. This is the first section of Washington Memorial Chapel that greets the visitor, from the north.
The Chapel is not part of Valley Forge National Historic Park, but being surrounded by the park, it is well-visited by thousands, in the course of a year. It was constructed from 1904-1917, at the behest of Dr. W. Herbert Burk, a local Anglican minister, with the blessing of President Theodore Roosevelt.
The design and materials evoke the sturdiness and timeless aura of the enduring stone churches of Europe.
Homages to the power and endurance of history are contained, in the commemorative discs, embedded in both the outside patios and the interior floors.
In the foyer of the chapel, there is this memorial tribute to Dr. Bodo Otto, and his sons, who staffed a combat hospital in nearby Yellow Springs. The Ottos had come to Philadelphia, from Gottingen, in what is now Germany, in the 1750’s.
These views are of the north side of the structure. Note the Carillon and Bell Tower, in the background.
This is a statue of Rev. William White, Chaplain to the Continental Congress and first Episcopal Bishop of Philadelphia. It is located in the Chapel’s courtyard.
This Justice Bell hangs in the foyer of the Chapel.
These arches lie on the east entrance to the Chapel.
This Wall of Honor has names of many veterans, from the Revolutionary War to the present day.
Here is a view of the Chapel’s interior.
This memorial, erected by the Valley Forge Alumnae Chapter, in 1993, represents a concerted national effort to recognize the diversity of our nation’s builders, from the beginning of America’s story.
A small Gift Shop and Cafe is operated by parish volunteers. The cafe was welcomed by me, after a day of exploration in the heat.
The only identified grave at Valley Forge is that of Lieutenant John Waterman, of Rhode Island, d. April 23, 1778. This obelisk was erected at his gravesite, in 1901, by the Daughters of the American Revolution, in honour of all those who died at Valley Forge, during the American encampment.
Both the Chapel and the obelisk overlook the Grand Parade, where the Continental Army trained, whilst at Valley Forge.
So, it was with humility that I stood and gave thanks for their long ago sacrifice, which started the process, far from perfect and far from finished, of building our nation.
NEXT: General Washington’s Headquarters and the western sector of Valley Forge