HomeHome Page FeaturedNortheast Philly observes Memorial Day

Northeast Philly observes Memorial Day

Joe Crescenz and Post 2819 commander Frank DeFranco raise the American flag as the previous flag is folded.
Boy Scouts Troop 160 kicks off the PPH ceremony.
David Duryea (fourth from left), at Oxley.
The front lawn on Post 2819.
Martin Stacey and Zachary Davis help PPH’s Jorge Rodriguez raise the flag as Troop 160 Scoutmaster Walt MacBride salutes.
David Duryea
Essay winner Alyssa DiNezza
PPH resident/employee Carol Cherrington laid a wreath at the flagpole.

The Michael J. Crescenz Medal of Honor Rising Sun VFW Post 2819, 6850 Martins Mill Road, hosted its annual Memorial Day event on Monday afternoon.

The post is named in memory of Crescenz, one of 27 Cardinal Dougherty High School graduates killed in the Vietnam War. His brother, Joe, helped raise the American flag on Monday.

The front lawn featured hundreds of American flags and crosses, with the names of Post 2819 members who’ve died printed on the crosses. There were six new crosses planted on Monday, including one for Post 2819’s oldest member and past commander Joe Weitort, who died in December.

“He will be greatly missed,” said current commander Frank DeFranco.

Other newly planted crosses were for Tony Maher, Bobby Dott, Kenneth Ziff, Brian Corbett and Thomas E. Jardel.

St. Cecilia eighth-grader Alyssa DiNezza and Archbishop Ryan junior Giavanna Stanger read their winning essays for the Patriot Pen and Voice of Democracy contests, respectively. DeFranco presented them with a cash prize.

State Rep. Jared Solomon recalled comments from John F. Kennedy, in a speech at Amherst College less than a month before he was killed, who said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”

Solomon said only two or three houses on his block displayed the American flag for the holiday. When he Googled “Memorial Day,” the top three things that appeared were a breakfast special at Perkins, information on the shore and hamburgers/hot dogs.

“We can do better than breakfast, hot dogs and the shore,” he said. “In fact, we must.”

The event also included a wreath laying, the Pledge of Allegiance, the playing of Taps, the singing of the national anthem and a tribute to the 13 U.S. service members killed last August in a bombing at an Afghanistan airport by “evil cowards.”

The 2nd Police District blocked the road to traffic so the large crowd could safely watch the ceremony.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Protestant Home held its annual Memorial Day ceremony.

Boy Scouts Troop 160 got things underway by marching through the parking lot, where 80 or so people were gathered for the outdoor event.

Emcee Bill Conaway, PPH’s director of community relations, called for a moment of silence for the victims of the recent Texas school shooting. Rep. Jared Solomon, who will soon be redistricted out of the area where PPH is located, asked the crowd to sometime in the near future look at the pictures of the 19 young students killed, to think and pray for their families and to pray for a more peaceful world.

Conaway spoke of a trip some PPH staff and residents took last Thursday to Washington Crossing National Cemetery for an “unattended service,” which pays respect to those who had no one witness their interment.

PPH security guard Jorge Rodriguez, a veteran, raised the American flag with the help of Troop 160 members Zachary Davis and Martin Stacey. Troop 160 later walked to other Memorial Day ceremonies at the Burholme Memorial for Peace at Jardel Recreation Center and the World War I monument at Five Points.

PPH residents played a big role in the ceremony. Carol Feeley read the war poem In Flanders Fields. Carol Cherrington placed a wreath. Audrey Alston sang Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones and led the crowd in a rendition of the national anthem. Ed Feeley assisted Conaway in explaining the significance of the POW/MIA remembrance table set for one.

Pastor Ken Smith offered an invocation and benediction.

“We can never be thankful enough,” he said.

On Saturday, retired Navy Rear Adm. David Duryea was the honored guest at a meet-and-greet reception at William D. Oxley American Legion Post 133, 4637 Decatur St. (at Torresdale Avenue).

Duryea and his wife Colleen traveled from northern Virginia at the request of Bob Cummings, Oxley chaplain and vice commander of the state American Legion’s District 5.

Cummings said he and Duryea served together on the USS Lapon “a long time ago in a galaxy far away.”

Duryea thanked the crowd for the invitation. He was the guest speaker at Monday’s Bridesburg Memorial Day Parade, and was pleased to hear of a series of weekend events.

“It’s incredibly important to recognize the sacrifice. It’s so important to our nation,” he said.

Admission included draft beer and food, with all proceeds going to the Delaware Valley Veterans Home residents’ welfare fund.

Oxley commander Bruce Conklin made Duryea an honorary lifetime member of Post 133.

On Monday afternoon, after the parade, Oxley Post members held a memorial service at Magnolia Cemetery, 6950 Tulip St., at the grave of William Oxley, followed by a ceremony at St. Dominic Cemetery at the grave of Charles McMenamy (namesake of Charles McMenamy American Legion Post, 8041 Frankford Ave.). The day ended with a ceremony at Oxley Post. ••

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