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Honoring America’s Heroes at the Medal of Honor Grove

By May 23, 2019March 25th, 2022Community Employees Volunteerism
Blue Crew volunteers sprucing up the grounds at the Medal of Honor Grove

Blue Crew volunteers helping to spruce up the Medal of Honor Grove.

There are approximately 30 million military veterans in the United States, and that number keeps growing every day! The IVets, Independence Blue Cross’s associate resource group for veterans, includes many men and women who have served on behalf of American citizens. Since 2013, the IVets has shown their appreciation for service members by supporting the veteran community. This includes participating in events that showcase veteran contributions and honor America’s heroes, such as the Medal of Honor Grove in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

The Medal of Honor Grove is the nation’s oldest operating memorial dedicated to the more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients, who represent each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Every acre of the Grove features a tree with a marker containing the name, rank, unit, and date and place of action for each Medal of Honor recipient. In addition to the trees, each state has an obelisk that resembles the Washington Monument and is engraved with the state seal, a dedication plaque, and a list of Medal of Honor recipients from that state.

To honor the memory of the brave men and one woman (her name is Mary E. Walker) recognized at the Medal of Honor Grove, the Blue Crew and the IVets partnered for a beautification and clean-up of this special area on Saturday, May 11.

“These veterans paid the ultimate price by giving their life for their country, so it is only right that we honor them for their sacrifice,” said Ernestine Brown, an IVet and retired Air Force member. “As a veteran myself, it is nice to know that there are organizations like Independence and the IVets that support us.”

The IVets Connection

This project is particularly special for the IVets since several have members whose family are Medal of Honor recipients, including:

  • Kim Wagner, Manager of Customer Support Center: Kim is a descendant of Pierre Leon, a French immigrant who joined the United States Navy in 1861 and was awarded the Medal of Honor for valorous action in the Civil War.
  • Matthew White, Lead Business Systems Analyst: Matthew is a descendant of George Platt, for whom the George C. Platt Memorial Bridge in Philadelphia was renamed. Mr. Platt was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valorous actions at Gettysburg.

“My great-great grandfather was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service. His marker at the Medal of Honor Grove is a way for me to connect with him,” said Kim. “Veterans are part of our history and our real-life heroes. The Medal of Honor Grove is a hidden treasure that we need to maintain in honor of our most highly decorated heroes. The Blue Crew and IVets’ efforts to beautify the Grove reflect our company’s support for veterans and the communities we serve. I am proud to work for a company that affords associates the opportunity to give back through our volunteer programs.”

Saying Thanks

If you’re part of the Blue Crew or IVets, I encourage you and your friends and family to join us in saying thanks to those who served by volunteering to help with next year’s beautification and clean-up of the Medal of Honor Grove. If you’ve never been there, I encourage you to stop by this beautiful place and pay tribute to all the Medal recipients.


Mattie Johnson

I am a 24-year associate at IBC, a SJU graduate and served as a President of the IVets Associate Resource Group. I am a US Army veteran, parent of an Air Force veteran, sister to a Vietnam veteran, auntie to a Naval Academy graduate and three nephews who served in the Army. My Dad was a Navy man as well as his brothers, a maternal uncle was a Marine and my great grandfather was in the US Colored Troops in 1864. Away from IBC, I volunteer at the Philadelphia Airport's USO Center supporting soldiers and their families as they travel, and at the Women Veterans Center, which is supported by IBC through the "I Am Not Invisible" exhibit, a nationwide recognition of women veterans.