Elizabeth Merchant Marines get their due
On Thursday, Elizabeth public works director John Grossi ran the backhoe and worked on a concrete monument that accompanies the newest flagpole at the borough honor roll.
“This has been a long time coming for the Merchant Marine,” said Mike Kemple, one of the advocates for adding the pole.
The flagpole, which will be dedicated on Sunday at 1 p.m., will sit behind ones for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.
“We're here to honor the Merchant Marine,” said Rick Elster, a retired Navy lieutenant commander and commander of Elizabeth Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7632.
Elster will serve as master of ceremonies on Sunday. He was at the honor roll near the northbound ramp to the Elizabeth Bridge on Thursday with Kemple, American Legion Post 553 Commander Frank Tignanelli and state Rep. Rick Saccone.
Kemple displayed the flag, which has a Merchant Marine emblem, the inscription “In Peace and War” and 1775, the service's founding date.
“When those who've served our nation during war are formally honored, Merchant Marine sometimes (is) overlooked,” said Saccone, a Republican from Elizabeth Township, who is one of the scheduled speakers. “Merchant Marine certainly (is) worthy of recognition, for they entered dangerous and hostile environments to keep our armed forces supplied.”
Merchant Marine ships carried goods from the United States to Britain and Russia in World War II. One was the SS McKeesport, which was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1943.
During 1944-45 Kemple, 86, of Elizabeth Township served on a Lend-Lease vessel carrying supplies to the Russian Arctic port of Murmansk. He was drafted into the Army and served in Italy.
“I applaud Mike Kemple's dream of establishing a monument,” Saccone said. “Because the property on which the flag and monument stand was owned by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, it involved a great deal of coordination between state and local governments to make the transfer of land possible.”
Gov. Tom Corbett intervened after meeting Kemple at Saccone's annual veterans picnic. Grossi and other Elizabeth officials played a role, as well.
Council president Monica Glowinski said a plaque accompanying the flagpole will be ready for the ceremony.
Elster said it will include the national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, a prayer by a local pastor and comments from Saccone.
Kemple said Pittsburgh paramedic Larry Jones will play “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes, and Elizabeth Forward High School senior Kevin Scott and freshman Kendrick Berg will play taps.
A luncheon will be served at the Elizabeth fire hall.
Glowinski will lead a delegation of borough officials. She expressed regret that other aspects of the Merchant Marine monument won't be ready in time for Sunday.
“We were unable to do the walkway up to the flag,” she said. “We are going to have the monument and the flagpole ready to go.”
Glowinski suggested a spring ceremony because the ground is susceptible to freezing and thawing. Kemple said the borough has delayed work long enough.
“If we had a staff of multiple people we might have been able to address this sooner,” Glowinski said.
Grossi is the borough's only full-time public works employee, and there is one part-time worker, and their efforts are divided among other tasks, including the continued rehabilitation of Irwin Street, which was damaged by flooding on July 10.
Kemple crossed swords with the borough over donations of trees and shrubs from three area businesses.
“We did not agree to shrubbery,” Glowinski said at the Aug. 27 council meeting. Council vice president Robin Miller said the borough could not afford the cost of maintaining the plants.
Kemple said flower boxes on the other side of the memorial could accommodate shrubbery, and dogwood trees could be planted anywhere on the grounds.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Homestead Bottom Dollar’s fixtures, equipment head to auction
- McKeesport backs effort to rebuild housing in Seventh Ward
- Suspect arrested in fatal West Mifflin shooting
- Mon-Yough Laurels & Lances
- Mon-Yough lawmakers split on Wolf’s budget plan
- Members of Steel Valley, Twin Rivers councils of governments to keep jobs in merger
- Fatal North Versailles accident shines light on 2014 death
- Wilmerding has big plans for borough’s 125th anniversary
- McKeesport heritage center event recognizes famous black Mon Valley musicians
- Police: Man arrested in McKeesport on stalking, other charges had loaded gun
- Mon-Yough communities continue recovery efforts from high waters