Northeast Philadelphia residents discuss honoring Gold Star Mothers, keeping the area clean and fatal shootings.
Honor Gold Star Mothers
In the past year, I attended a military funeral at Arlington National Cemetery for Jettaka Gammon, whom I named my daughter after. She was an amazing woman. It was very moving. So, I also took the opportunity to visit the graves of the fathers of two of my friends — one of whom, Mr. Adams, would have been 100 years old just before we visited his grave. Arlington truly is hallowed ground. The last grave that we visited was for my Uncle Gerry Blaney, who died Sept. 16, 1944.
He died before I was born. I didn’t even know that he was buried in Arlington until about three years ago. There is an amazing app on the cemetery’s website that lets you view all the graves, so I knew in advance that his gravestone included his name and another soldier’s name. I didn’t know how uncommon this was to have two people in one grave until we visited three other sections of the sprawling cemetery.
We thought that maybe my grandmother could not afford a single grave, but then learned that military members killed in action do not pay for their graves. Makes sense because at Arlington, you don’t pay to be buried there, you earn it. So, I did a little research and learned that this is a special grave called a brothers-in-arms grave. These two brave soldiers died together and it wasn’t possible to distinguish between their remains. They had full military honors and were buried overseas. But after the war, at the request of the other soldier’s family, he and my uncle were later buried at Arlington.
Of course, this made me think of my grandmother, who died when I was around 5. I’m sure it was bittersweet to have to mourn his death twice. It is only fitting in this month when we celebrate mothers and those who paid the ultimate price to focus on Gold Star Mothers like my grandmom. The only fleeting memories that I have of my grandmom are sitting on her lap and feeling so loved. This woman buried four of her eight children, including Gerald. When I think of the ridiculous things that cause me angst — traffic, the temp in my office — I decided to print out a picture of Uncle Gerry’s tombstone so that I can quickly become grateful for how blessed that I am.
The strong family members who have come before us will help us get through whatever petty or real crisis that we are undergoing. We just need to call out to them because, after all, we are all brothers/sisters in arms until we someday join them. How indebted we are to them.
Clean up Burholme Park
In response to State Rep. Jared Solomon’s Letter to the Editor, “Clean up the Northeast,” published in the May 2 edition of the Northeast Times:
Jared Solomon’s drive to clean up our neighborhoods is to be applauded and supported. I take issue, however, with the notion that providing more trashcans will help solve the litter problem. I have my doubts. Burholme Park has lots of trashcans, yet the litter is prevalent. Why is that? It’s because until some adults and children are taught or understand that dropping trash on the ground is wrong, the litter problem will continue. Burholme Park’s playground was recently upgraded with great new equipment and lots of trashcans. The trash one sees around there is very disappointing. Are the adults perhaps setting a bad example for the children?
Second, I also question the effectiveness of Solomon’s legislation to increase litter fines. Who is enforcing the current $300 litter fine? Again, I use the example of Burholme Park. There are plenty of $300 litter fine signs in and outside the park, but I see no enforcement. This is potential revenue lost to the city.
I do wish Solomon and his groups much success with this endeavor and hope that a similar group will take up the challenge in Burholme Park.
Too many fatal shootings
Did you know that over 15,000 people in the United States were killed by a gun in 2017? Fewer troops were killed in Iraq than our own country.
Possibly, war is not the right comparison to shootings on the streets. But at least in a war, a soldier has a weapon in his hand to defend himself. Obviously, this is not the case when someone is attending school or going to a concert.
Even after a recent march on Washington to ban assault weapons took place, nothing has been done. At this pace, our country may surpass the number of troops killed in World War II, if our political people continue to stay complacent.