A special salute
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.