2003-12-05 / Columnists

Boyle-ing Points by Kevin Boyle

Boyle-ing Points by Kevin Boyle

Glad to read the letter in the Bag of Mail from the "Relatives of Kathie and Chris Lawler." It’s important to know that locals who lost loved ones the day Flight 587 crashed in Belle Harbor don’t want the corner to be a large scale memorial. They offer a point of view as compelling as any other. In some ways, it’s easier to be on the side demanding a memorial. That seems respectful and good, righteous and heartfelt. Arguing against it sounds harsh and perhaps sinister (so, in most cases—me included—people say nothing).

If, indeed, politicians are going to seek a compromise it shouldn’t come with one side being mute. The "relatives of Kathie and Chris" are brave and honorable and have now provided a crucial voice in the matter. They want something quite different from some others who’ve lost loved ones. (Emphasis on some; when reporters cover this controversy I’ve yet to see it called a unanimous sentiment among the bereaved that a memorial instead of homes should be built).

I hadn’t written about this because this column (and The Wave’s editorials, for that matter) seemed too removed from the tragedy. No one in my family died. Yeah, it’s my neighborhood but making the point that a memorial (instead of rebuilding homes) was wrong seemed audacious and improper. I’m glad the "relatives" made their feelings known publicly.

Apartment buildings and houses have burned down and lives have been tragically lost. The apartment and houses always return. Hospital rooms are not sealed when someone dies. The Staten Island Ferry crash won’t cause the dock to be closed. People have been killed in plane crashes on runways of New York airports – the runways continue in operation. The people of Columbine High School remember what happened in its building but they carry on there; it’s still a school (not a cemetery). In Iraq, so many of our troops have been killed – certainly, there’ll be no movement to claim a neighborhood corner or two in Baghdad as sacred ground. And on and on.

Such examples won’t convince those who want a full-scale memorial to change their minds – but if there’s a compromise coming (and really, what else can there be?) it’s important for both sides (all good, righteous and heartfelt) to be heard.

I don’t feel bad or racist or cold because I think a memorial on Beach 116th street would be suitable; I am glad that St. Francis in its prayer garden acknowledges the lives lost, too. I think the people of Belle Harbor have been generous, kind, and compassionate.

Boyle-ing Over: It was a wonderful night in Brooklyn last Saturday. The Brooklyn Mariners rolled to an easy victory over the Greenjackets, an upstate outfit. It was particularly wonderful because it earned Coach Pudgie Walsh his 500th career victory. For a long time, his full name has been "the legendary Pudgie Walsh." Already in the semi-pro football Hall of Fame, Pudgie, (excuse me, the legendary Pudgie) deserves another Standing O for a milestone that won’t be touched in this lifetime. Thirty-nine and a half years on the FDNY, 500 wins as a football coach – will someone write a book about this guy?! (Will a smart publisher realize he’s bigger than the South Beach Diet and Dr. Phil)!

***Speaking of legends….Pete Hayden, one of the top-top guys in the FDNY was recently honored as Irishman of the Year by the Emerald Society. I can count my heroes on one hand – one of those fingers is reserved for Chief Hayden. His accomplishments are staggering; his leadership unsurpassed. This recent award aside, he remains too unnoticed, too overlooked. The public should know more about this great pillar of New York’s Bravest.

***What a sight! The Rockaway Irish Boys did themselves and their neighborhood proud as they rounded up something like 15 thousand pounds of food on their first Thanksgiving food drive. Pick-up trucks and vans overflowing with food (and the young guys) went up and down the streets collecting stuff for hours. Great job!

***Congratulations to Bernie Heeran and Rep. Anthony Weiner being honored this weekend by a combination of vital neighborhood groups.

***The Graybeards and a number of local firefighters are teaming up to raise funds for the volunteer firefighters who lost their homes in the recent firestorms that ravaged so much of Southern California. Rockaway was shown an extraordinary amount of generosity by individuals and groups from across the country after 9/11 and the crash of Flight 587. This is an opportunity to respond in kind.

Stay tuned as the fundraising plans become finalized and then please help out.


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