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A special salute

November 19, 2015
In The News

By William Kenny

The Ar­bours at Eagle Pointe was en­vi­sioned as an “older adults” com­munity from the first day its de­velopers pitched their plans to the Somer­ton Civic As­so­ci­ation about a dec­ade ago. But 55 and older folks aren’t the only dom­in­ant demo­graph­ic among the hun­dreds of in­hab­it­ants.

The de­vel­op­ment has a large per­cent­age of mil­it­ary vet­er­ans, too.

On Nov. 11, Vet­er­ans Day, res­id­ents paid trib­ute to the dozens of re­tired sol­diers, sail­ors, air­men and Mar­ines who in­hab­it the com­munity, as well as dozens more of their de­ceased re­l­at­ives who also served. Sev­er­al elec­ted of­fi­cials from the North­east joined the com­mem­or­a­tion, dur­ing which res­id­ents ded­ic­ated a newly erec­ted flag­pole in front of the com­munity’s cent­ral club­house, played a med­ley of mil­it­ary-themed marches and fired a 21-rifle sa­lute to the fallen.

“It’s an hon­or to be here on such a spe­cial day,” said U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle. “It’s al­ways a bit­ter­sweet day be­cause it’s an op­por­tun­ity to say ‘thank you’ to all vet­er­ans who played such a vi­tal role in our coun­try. It is also for many a re­mind­er of the sac­ri­fices made by their fam­il­ies.”

“It is these men and wo­men who step up and on a daily basis rep­res­ent the char­ac­ter of a true Amer­ic­an,” ad­ded state Rep. Mar­tina White.

About 200 res­id­ents and vis­it­ors gathered out­side the club­house for the read­ing of names. Vo­lun­teers cred­ited Ziggy Ros­in­ski for chair­ing the or­gan­iz­ing com­mit­tee while Frank No­cella led the fun­drais­ing to pur­chase and in­stall the new flag pole. On Vet­er­ans Day, they raised the Amer­ic­an flag above a POW/MIA flag. Vet­er­ans from World War II, Korea, Vi­et­nam and oth­er con­flicts were re­cog­nized for their ser­vice, as were peace­time vet­er­ans.

In ad­di­tion to Boyle and White, dig­nit­ar­ies in­cluded state Sen. John Sabat­ina Jr., state Rep. Kev­in Boyle, mem­bers of the Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment’s En­gine 22 and a Mar­ine vet­er­an hon­or guard.

The crowd re­cited the Pledge of Al­le­gi­ance. A sing­er per­formed The Star-Spangled Ban­ner. Ros­in­ski read the de­ceased vet­er­ans’ names as oth­er com­mit­tee mem­bers laid a wreath at the base of the flag pole. A lone trum­peter played Taps just be­fore a heart-pound­ing rifle sa­lute. Brendan Boyle presen­ted con­gres­sion­al cita­tions to the liv­ing vets, who were asked to step for­ward in­di­vidu­ally.

“I see today as a happy day be­cause it gives us an op­por­tun­ity to say ‘thank you’ to the people who sac­ri­ficed so much … not only the vet­er­ans but their fam­il­ies,” Sabat­ina said.

Kev­in Boyle noted that his alma ma­ter, Car­din­al Dougherty High School, lost 27 alumni in Vi­et­nam, as did Fath­er Judge High School, while the old Thomas Edis­on High School at Eighth Street and Le­high Av­en­ue (a site once oc­cu­pied by North­east High School) lost 54 alumni in the same war.

“I’m so glad to see that so many vet­er­ans, par­tic­u­larly those who served in Vi­et­nam, are get­ting the re­cog­ni­tion they de­serve,” Kev­in Boyle said.

Brendan Boyle said that the struggle con­tin­ues for many vet­er­ans long bey­ond their act­ive ser­vice. Twenty-four ser­vice­men and wo­men, act­ive and re­tired, com­mit sui­cide every day, many due to post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­order and trau­mat­ic brain in­jur­ies. He and his broth­er Kev­in Boyle are work­ing on le­gis­la­tion in their re­spect­ive le­gis­lat­ive bod­ies that would raise aware­ness to the prob­lem and seek to pre­vent it.

“We need as a coun­try to do more to treat not only the phys­ic­al wounds of war, but the emo­tion­al,” Brendan Boyle said.

Or­gan­izers of the Vet­er­ans Day com­mem­or­a­tion said they hope to make it an an­nu­al event at the Ar­bours.