Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thoughts on Funerals and Memorial Day

Earlier this week one of us at the LBA was sitting in unusual traffic on Second Avenue at Cedar Avenue wondering what the hold up was that was stopping cars from turning onto Cedar. Just as we were about to tap the horn to offer some audible encouragement to the dope holding us up, I suddenly saw a line of emergency vehicles driving slowly west followed by a hearse. Guilt and relief washed over us (guilt from having almost honked at a funeral, relief from having NOT actually honked). I could not see what town's vehicles were in the procession but judging from the presence of the fire engine, I would guess it was a firefighter's funeral.

As the LBA fell in line behind the short funeral processional (which just happened to take the same route we were taking to our next stop) we noticed at one point the funeral passed by a construction site where the J.F. Kiely Construction Co. was doing some utility work in the roadway. The West Long Branch Police had cones out redirecting traffic safely around the work site. As the procession passed the site, the five Kiely workers quickly stopped their work, stood in a line along the roadway, removed their hard hats and stood in reverent silence while the motorcade passed. This was in stark contrast to the two West Long Branch Police Officers who kept joking with each other (one smoking a cigarette) as the motorcade passed. It took only a minute for the entire procession to pass the work site and by the time the LBA was next to them, the Kiely workers were already back to work, having paid a quick, but entirely moving, tribute to the firefighter's family as they passed. Maybe the workers knew the deceased, maybe they didnt, maybe it is Kiely company policy, who knows, but more importantly who cares? They DID IT, any maybe that is the whole point. Kudos to Jack Kiely's men who did the right thing when no one was watching, which is the hallmark of a good operation.

The Long Branch Advocate would like to point out that the behavior of the West Long Branch cops was, in our opinion, unnecessarily inappropriate. If it is not WLBPD policy to pay respect to a passing funeral (even that of a firefighter) one would hope that the boys in blue would at least have had the presence of mind to note that of the seven individuals standing along Broadway they were the two acting inappropriately and maybe take 45 seconds out of their day to render a little courtesy. This should also serve as a reminder to all that the LBA is watching and is just as quick to give credit for a job well done as they are to criticize a job poorly done.

Since it is Memorial Day weekend, I thought it befitting that we pay tribute to all those who have died in service to our community and our nation. It is only right that we take a few minutes out of an entire weekend to pay homage to those who gave everything to our community. During the last ten years or so in Long Branch alone, we have lost three dedicated public safety officials in the line of duty. The LBA apologizes for not knowing if there are more, but at the very least, we should remember Police Officer Patrick King, Firefighter Robert Feeney and Firefighter Ronald Fitzpatrick, all of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice to the people of the city.

Then I got thinking, were it not for Memorial Day, we would have NO DAY set aside to thank the people who work to keep our town safely operating. More than the police and the fire departments, we should be thanking all of those who have chosen to serve our community: teachers, inspectors, secretaries, clerks, elected and appointed officials. We at the LBA may have an opinion about how the city is being run but we do not discount the fact that most city officials and employees are out there every day just trying to do their job the best they know how. Most do not have ego issues that get in the way of what is best for the city, most come to work on a regular basis and do an honest days work for honest wages, many come with a sense of duty and dedication--and for that we thank them all, past and present.

But Memorial Day is the day we set aside to honor those who have died performing those critical duties, so to that end, we list the city's Memorial Day Ceremonies and urge every citizen's participation in them:

  • 9:00 AM - Fire Department Memorial Service at Firefighters' Memorial (Overlook at Woodgate Avenues)

  • 9:45 AM - Wreath Laying for those Lost at Sea at West End Beach (Foot of Brighton Avenue)

  • 11:00 AM - Veterans Memorial Service at Veterans' Memorial (City Hall Park, 344 Broadway).

  • Citywide Open House (to follow) at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2140 (Willow at Westwood Avenues).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We at the WLBPD take very seriously the concept and philosophy of courtesy and respect. Therefore, I would encourage and invite anyone who observes such a breech of same to contact me personally. Doing so allows the administration of the WLBPD to address the problem in a timely and accurate fashion. I can assure you that such a demonstration of disrespect and lack of decorum would have been dealt with swiftly and effectively.

Captain Larry Mihlon
West Long Branch Police Department