A special Kearny Memorial Day reflection by Melanie Ryan

Pride and gratitude for our military

This weekend, we celebrate and remember military members who gave their lives for our freedom. Flags will be placed, wreaths set out.

Over the past year, many of the same items placed last year have been moved, damaged and/or stolen. This is unacceptable. I do not care if it is kids or adults, if it was a prank or just someone thinking it is was funny. These things have meaning and we need to understand that for so many, there is not a stateside grave and these monuments are a place to reflect and remember. We would not move a remembrance display in a church or cemetery and so we need to treat these monuments the same way.

It is up to us to reflect on the sacrifices they made. When you walk past a park, or monument or street named for them, take a minute and wonder who were they. For many years, it has been the practice in Kearny to name new streets and parks for those on our Honor Roll of military who never made it home.

Miglin playground was named for Charles Miglin but has a plaque listing 13 servicemen who never made it home.

The Chestnut Street Bridge, for instance, is named for two brothers killed in World War II — Vincent and Alfred Pisciotta.

Pettigrew Playground is named for Frank R. Pettigrew, U.S. Army, killed in action in 1945 in the Philippines

Gunnell Oval is named for Benjamin Elliott Gunnell, U.S. Army, the first Kearny man killed in World War, who died July 28, 1918

Donald Scott Playground is named for Lance Cpl. Donald Blue Scott, 19, killed in action in Vietnam.

Peden Terrace is named for Joseph Peden Jr. (USN) the first Kearny casualty of World War II. He was just 20.

There are monuments all about town, so take a minute, pick up the trash near them, straighten the flag and give thanks for their sacrifice when you see them.

As a side note, if you have a connection to someone who died in service, write a short history of what you know, submit it to the museum or library committee so the names we see have a face and story.

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Melanie Ryan | Special to The Observer