Former POW to Speak at Special Re-dedication Ceremony on Memorial Day

Sunday, May 17, 2015
Ralph W. Galati, who spent 14 months as a POW during the Vietnam War, will be the keynote speaker during a special ceremony at 12:30 p.m. on Memorial Day to re-dedicate the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial (PVVM) at Penn's Landing.

Galati is presently the Director of Veterans Services at St. Joseph's University where he coordinates campus-wide programs for veterans, dependents and disabled veterans. He retired as an IBM executive after 28 years in 2007and then was employed by SAP Americas Headquarters in Newtown Square in their Education and Training business.

"We're honored to have Ralph as our speaker for this special day, when after more than seven years, we have realized our goal to refurbish the Memorial and open the site to create more awareness and serve as a deterrent to vandalism," noted Terry A. Williamson, PVVM Fund president.

The Memorial was dedicated in 1987 and over the years, it incurred weather damage and normal deterioration, along with vandalism and abuse by skateboarders and others. In late 2006, the PVVMF Board launched the "Duty to Remember Campaign" in two phases. The first phase was to correct past damage and the $500,000 raised from corporate, government and individual resources resulted in new paving material, a refurbishment of the names, granite repairs, enhanced lighting, new flag poles for all branches of the Armed Services and a new security system. The first phase project was completed in time for the 20th anniversary of the Memorial in 2007.

The original design of an enclosed sanctuary made it an inviting targets for vandals and others. Police and security experts agreed that opening the Spruce Street side of the Memorial would serve as a deterrent to criminals who desecrate this hallowed ground. The so-called "wall of scenes" along Spruce Street was altered and the panels installed on the two semi-circular walls bordering a new entrance to fulfill the second phase of the fund-raising campaign and its goal of another $500,000. Opening the site also solved another problem. Despite its prominence among veterans, many people were not aware of the Memorial and with the addition of large granite signs and the new open design, the Memorial became more visible.

A graduate of St. James High School in Chester and St. Joseph's University, Galati was serving as a weapons systems officer in a Phantom F-4 when he was shot down over North Vietnam with his pilot on Feb. 16, 1972. He was repatriated on March 28, 1973, and continued to serve on active duty in the Air Force for eight more years and the Reserves until 1981.

Galati received the Silver Star, Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Clusters (OLC), the Purple Heart with one OLC, the Air Medal with four OLC and the Air Force Commendation Medal with two OLC.