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Category: Opinion & Reader Forum

Thoughts & Views: Go ahead, make my day

So, one day I’m sitting at my desk at The Observer when there came this brief but loud noise from outside followed by a strange chemical odor wafting briefly through the open window.

I never did find out what had happened, but at the time, I commented, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

A co-worker laughed, and I said, “I also love that movie.” And she said, “What movie?”

Apparently she thought I was just being clever, and I realized that what we had here was a failure to communicate. Read more »




To North Arlington High School graduates: 

I want to congratulate you on your graduation from high school. You have put in a lot of work to reach your goal and you should be proud of your achievements.

You are about to embark on an incredible journey filled with unforeseeable twists and turns. Some of you will travel far from North Arlington and take on challenges you never imagined you could. Some of you will stay close to home and become part of the fabric of your community. Some will go to college, or trade school; others are destined for the U.S. military. No one path is right for everyone so follow the path that suits you best.

Choosing the right path in life in not always easy.

Be true to your principles; never forget who you are or where you came from. You don’t know it now, but a big part of who you will become someday is already embedded deep inside of you.

I’m not going to tell you to go out and change the world, because most of you will do that in small, almost imperceptible ways that you will come to appreciate only decades from now.

Be honest and forthright. Try new things; test yourself. You will make mistakes, and that’s okay; you will learn more from your mistakes than from your accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to work hard. Don’t sell yourself short and don’t listen to your critics.

Most of all, I implore you to be good citizens. America is at a very pivotal time in its history. We need people of good character to step forward and become doers in our communities, not takers. America has plenty of critics and naysayers. What we need are people willing to roll up their sleeves and make positive contributions to their town, their state and their country.

You are lucky to live in the greatest nation on earth – one that allows you to follow your dreams and set your own measure of success. But remember: America didn’t become great by accident. Many men and women worked very hard to give you the inheritance of political liberty and personal freedom that you now enjoy. Appreciate what this country has to offer and find a way to make it better. If you can do that, you will be a success.

Best wishes, 

Mayor Peter C. Massa
North Arlington 

Thoughts & Views: Before you take that overseas trip, read this


With the summer vacation season upon us, those of us fortunate enough to be able to afford it will be booking flights to destinations around the globe.

So a reminder: Make sure your passport is up to date.

Should be pretty simple to check, you would think: If your passport hasn’t expired, stands to reason you should be good to go, right?


Don’t get caught like a fool holding your luggage at the airline terminal and being told in no uncertain terms that even though your passport is in good standing, you can’t get on the plane because your passport must be valid for at least three months beyond your intended date of departure.

That’s right, folks. So says the U.S. Department of State. Read more »



A story in last week’s issue of The Observer incorrectly reported that Ponte Romana Restaurant in Kearny was charged with having low-proof bottles. The actual ABC violation to which the licensee pleaded guilty was contaminated bottles.

Thoughts & Views: In Normandy, ‘Longest Day’ lives on



That’s not a real paratrooper hanging from a church steeple. It’s a representation of one — and it’s a memorial to all the American paratroopers who liberated the French town of Sainte-Mere-Eglise on June 6, 1944.

Our p. 1 story this week acknowledges the 70th anniversary of D-Day, but there is so much, much more to tell — literally entire libraries are devoted to the Allied invasion. So we thought we’d focus on just one incident, which most Americans likely were unaware of until it was portrayed in the 1962 movie “The Longest Day.” Many still may not know about the memorial. Read more »



Last week’s issue of The Observer contained a photo display of the new Portuguese monument slated for dedication in Riverbank Park, Kearny, on June 1. The text accompanying the photos should have mentioned that Thomas Meloro & Son Monuments of North Arlington was the designer of the structure.



To the Editor: 

Several friends e-mailed, called and sent the link to a story (“Searing Memories of a Long-Ago Fire,” May 21) containing a photo of my father, the late Kearny Mayor Joseph M. Healey, taken in 1963 at the Thompson Fish and Chip fire at 5 Kearny Ave.

Fittingly enough, the story appeared just as I’m about to mark my 25th year as a firefighter in Plainsboro Township, N.J., and I have been reflecting on the important role my father and then-Chief John Sherlock played in creating a strong interest in firefighting and the fire service.

It was a different time in government and politics and, after leaving office, my brother and I spent the better part of a day engaging my father in a dialogue about his career. Police dispatchers were instructed to notify him about any working fire or significant police incident on a 24/7 basis. I asked him why he responded, even though I had loved going with him, and he said that he felt responsible as mayor for the firefighters and police officers and he wanted to make sure anyone burned out of their home would be taken care of. In this age, that’s a refreshing approach.

The picture and the story also give me the opportunity to express my thanks to the members of the Kearny Fire Department, then and now. It has always been a great fire department and, in a younger day, I envisioned myself as a member. That didn’t happen, but I took what I learned from you and put it into work down here in Central Jersey.

Thomas C. Healey 


Plainsboro Fire Company 

Thoughts & Views: The world according to Hagel

In an interview with Charlie Rose aired last week on PBS, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was explaining the facts of global life, as filtered through the eyes of a Vietnam combat veteran.

Hagel, who claimed he was representing the views of the Commander in Chief, President Obama, said that Congress needed to ante up defense spending if it wanted to keep the American military capability in cyber warfare technology up to par with the world’s other superpowers and to beat down the forces of terrorism.

He reminded Rose that the U.S. has a military “presence” in 100 countries where, he said, we are helpmates to allies who want our help.

Hagel didn’t use the word “treason” but he came pretty close when he warned that Congress better do its utmost to avoid succumbing to the pitfalls of sequestration and accompanying budget cuts. (And it appears that Congress – facing mid-term elections – is listening, given the House’s willingness to hand the Pentagon $600 billion – more than it asked for – despite the brass’s offer to close some bases, shed the U-2 spy plane and other weapons. (Obama is seeking Congressional approval for a $3.7 trillion total national budget for 2014.) Read more »



To the Editor: As was recently reported in The Observer, a pedestrian was struck and killed at the intersection of Passaic Ave. and Belleville Turnpike in North Arlington. Earlier this morning (Saturday, May 16), I witnessed a second near-miss accident involving a pedestrian at this same location.

A group representing a North Arlington sports league was panhandling at the intersection. The intersection was extremely congested, and a young girl darted between traffic to donate to one of the individuals collecting. This girl was nearly hit by a car. Traffic at this intersection is bad enough on weekends; I am not sure why the municipality allows these panhandlers during these weekend periods, which only exacerbate the traffic conditions and in consideration of the recent fatality.

I call on the Borough of North Arlington to prohibit the practice of street collections at this location.

Dan McNamara 



Read more »

Thoughts & Views: A poet for Memorial Day




Joyce Kilmer, New Jersey native and long-time Garden State resident, is most famous for his poem “Trees,” memorized by numberless schoolchildren and, unfortunately, mocked by latter-day writers who find it too precious.

Columbia University, his alma mater, had (maybe still does have) an annual Joyce Kilmer Memorial Bad Poetry Contest.

For shame, Columbia. How about an Allen Ginsberg Memorial Bad Poetry Contest? Oh, I forgot. Ginsberg personified liberalism. Liberals can’t write bad poetry.

Despite his misguided literary critics, this week’s column is dedicated to Kilmer.

His poem “The House With Nobody In It” still makes me a bit weepy. I always wanted to see that house, located somewhere between Mahwah, where Kilmer lived, and Suffern, “along the Erie track.” Supposedly it was at 150 Franklin Turnpike, for years the site of a tavern cleverly named “Nobody’s Inn,” however there are conflicting reports that it was elsewhere on the road.

But I digress. Read more »