The history of the Memorial started 16 years before it was finally dedicated. Mrs. Margaret Prewoznik had tried for those 16 years to get civic and veteran organizations in the area to help her get a memorial built to honor all of the brave men from Culpeper County who lost their lives in the war in Vietnam. Her son, Edward O. Spencer, was killed in Vietnam in 1968.
When Mrs. Prewoznik heard that a new chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America was being formed in her area, she made contact with them through various people. The members of newly-formed Chapter 752 loved the idea of helping her get the Memorial erected. A final vote to do the project was taken in January 1995.
The design and location of the Memorial were also finalized at that meeting. It was decided that the Memorial would be made of black granite like The Wall in Washington, D.C.; but, unlike the one in Washington, the Memorial in Culpeper would have a dedication on one of the panels. It would read:
At first, the Memorial was to be located on the grounds of the Culpeper National Cemetery; but those plans had to be changed when the design was denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs who oversees the national cemeteries in the United States. The Vietnam Veterans of 752 decided that, if they couldn't have their Memorial designed the way they wanted, they'd go somewhere else. It was decided that they'd seek permission to place the Memorial on the grounds of the old historical Culpeper County Courthouse.
In September 1996 Chapter President Sam Thompson, along with relatives and friends of those from Culpeper County who had died in Vietnam, went before the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors and presented their case. After a very emotional and informative presentation by the group, the board approved the location. The Memorial would now be placed next to the old courthouse.
The hard work was yet to come because the money to erect the Memorial had to be raised. It took members over a year to do so. They did fund-raisers, held dances, sold raffle tickets, and whatever else it took to raise the needed funds. But the hard work paid off. In August of 1997 Chapter 752 ordered the materials. The Memorial was finally going to happen -- or so they thought.
The dedication was planned for Veterans Day 1997. Invitations were sent out, public notices were placed in local newspapers, and announcements were made on local radio stations. The foundation and walkway for the Memorial were completed in September 1997. To accommodate the architectural design of the old Culpeper Courthouse, a cobblestone-looking walkway was placed around the Memorial thus blending in more with the old style of the courthouse. All the preparations had been made. The only thing left to do was wait for the granite.
The materials for the Memorial finally arrived, and on November 7th workers began placing the panels of the Memorial in place. But, it was not to be. An accident laying the last panel destroyed the whole Memorial when it fell over.
Chapter President Thompson and several other Chapter members were at the scene when the accident occurred. All of their hard work and dreams seemed to go up in smoke when that panel fell over. Luckily, the granite was insured and was replaced.
The Memorial would now have to be dedicated on another date. It was decided to do it on Memorial Day 1998. The granite was re-ordered in February 1998, and Thompson and his membership began the task once again of getting the word out about the dedication of the Memorial.
The Chapter members took the disaster in stride and used it to their advantage by making the dedication ceremony even better. The second set of panels arrived; and on May 17th, 1998, the granite panels of the Memorial were finally put in place with no accidents.
All of the preparations for the dedication were completed; and on May 25th, 1998, the Piedmont Area Vietnam Veterans Memorial was finally dedicated. The dreams of a grieving mother and the hard work of a young Vietnam Veterans organization were finally realized.
Today the Memorial is one of the most visited sites in Culpeper. It is cared for and protected by the ones it means the most to -- a mother who lost her son and a group of Vietnam Veterans looking for closure in their lives, and that's the way they want it.