Community Veterans' Service Board in Susquehanna Depot
I'm chagrined with myself, and for good reason. Really, it's a family thing for us Stellas. Well, so I thought. For years, I've walked past the Community Veterans' Service Board, without noticing something was out of kilter. By the way, the service board, which is a memorial, is located at the intersection of Main and Exchange streets in Susquehanna. On broad and tall white panels, one can read the names of local residents, who served in this nation's military, during various wars. What struck me as being out of kilter was the absence of one name.
During the last few months of the First World War, my father served his newly adopted country as a soldier in a then allied country, specifically, France. His name is absent. Funny thing, I never noticed this, until very recently. Well, this presented me with a problem. It's one thing to request the addition of my father's name to the board. It's another to ensure its being properly inscribed.
Around town, my father was known as "Patsy", which is the expected nickname for a "Pasquale". To my ear and eye, it just wouldn't be proper to have my father listed as "Stella, Patsy". And I know for a fact he never cared too much for "Pasquale". Whenever our priest recited the names of donors to, say, improvements in the Laurel Athletic Club hall, I would hear "Mister and Misses P Stella".
For a second, I thought, maybe, "Stella, P" might do. And then, I thought "c'mon". Then, I recalled he was occasionally called "Pasqual", his given name without the "e" ending. According to what I can recall, my father seemed to consider that acceptable.
Deciding on "Stella, Pasqual", I went to see about getting his name added, and properly inscribed. And so, I spoke with a member of the committee, responsible for erecting the Community Veterans' Service Board. Well, I got enlightened. Shortly after that, I wrote, and then published a FIRST draft. And that led to a second enlightenment.
Come to find out, the draft board, with which my father was listed, was in Illinois. I also learned a couple other facts about my father. While in Illinois, he worked in a piano factory, and a few steel mills. The veteran's bonus he used to open his tap room came by way of the Illinois bureaucracy. Some of the money was used to purchase equipment to refrigerate beer.
At the time, he was on lay-off from the Erie Railroad. When World War II came around, he got re-called as a "fire cleaner". For years afterwards, he held down two jobs, one with the railroad and the other with the tap room, later referred to as a tavern.
As best as I can recall, my father never expressed any negative feelings towards any particular group of people, with one exception and that, reasonably enough, being the Women's Christian Temperance Union. And to my recollection, that he did so only once, during a casual conversation that touched on his helping with repair work on a church steeple.
Incidentially, I'm throwing this in for no particular reason. Still, I think it matters. One of my brother Louie's sons expressed an interest in opening a restaurant. In response, I told him something like so: "If you open a book store, you open a business. If you open a restaurant, you MARRY a business." Well, dear Reader, make of that, whatever suits your fancy.
I knew before the second enlightenment about the veteran's bonus and the refrigeration equipment. But the information about Illinois was completely new to me. What was also completely new was the likelihood of his membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I say "likelihood" because it's highly doubtful that organization's beaureaucracy would send its magazine to non-members, who were regular people as my father was.
That reminds me. I was informed by a trustworthy source the American Legion is meticulous about membership qualifications. It is normal protocol for membership committees to ask for the opportunity to examine such documentation as discharge papers.
Due to attention to similar protocol, it would take some three years of effort to get that service board erected. During that time, members of the committee, volunteers from the local American Legion and Lions' Club, here in my home town in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, perspired bullets in gathering names, and in validating of same. Come to find, not only is my father's name absent, but so that of some one hundred others.
Oh, yes, I was told more names will have to be added, because of second Bush's second Iraq invasion and subsequent occupation. Chances are, I thought to myself, adding those names will require an additional broad and tall white panel. Anyway, during my enlightenment, I asked about having my father's name, "Stella, Pasqual", put in a file for reference, whenever that memorial gets refurbished. Aaay, "refurbished" was the best term that came to mind.
By the way, I do hope that's what happened, when I mentioned that the name of my brother, "Stella, Mark J", is likewise missing. During the Korean conflict, he served as a soldier in that unfortunate country.
Here's where I admit to being even more chagrined with myself. My brother, "Stella, Louis C", was serving, as a marine, likewise in Korea during that conflict. Just as the name of "Mark J" is missing under the KOREA rubric, so is that of "Louis C". In that regard, there's a difference between the two. Under the WORLD WAR II rubric and along with his twin brother Angelo, "Lewis C" is listed.
For quite a while there, I thought that my brother Louie's given name had been misspelled ... well, mistakes happen, ya'know. Just to remind the reader, earlier in this piece, I mention a first and then a second enlightenment. During my second enlightenment, I found out that Louie's first given name was "Luigi".
I am positive I know what impelled him to replace "Luigi" with "Lewis", and then "Louis". More than once, I got teased because my surname is "Stella". I remember some jackass, who outweighed me by some 60 pounds, would pester me for "Stella d'Oro" cookies, after warbling "Stella by Starlight" ... gotta admit, she had a pretty decent singing voice.
Come to find out, my brother "Mark J", whose nickname is "Joe" was known as "Luigi". To enlist in the Marine Corps, he "borrowed" a birth certificate. How it came about, I don't know. And more than likely, I'm not supposed to know how it did come about. After a year and quite some time short of his contracted enlistment, that particular Luigi was discharged under honorable conditions. Known later as Lewis, the other Luigi, who had served with his twin brother Angelo on the U.S.S MACON, got discharged from the Navy
Frankly, I doubt that, after the service board gets refurbished, there will appear under the WORLD WAR II rubric something like "Stella, Mark J as Stella, Luigi C".
Well, I knew my family's story contained some odd details, But I had no idea until recently.
Funny thing about that brother with the three given names, he was intensely proud of having served in the Marine Corps. So much so, he was an active member of some group for marine veterans. At his viewing, a contingent of that group fired several shots in memoriam.
Yes and yes again, I was irked about the absence of the names of my father and brothers, under the appropriate rubrics, from the service board. But that's now in the past. Due to my second enlightenment, I am contenting myself with this article. Somewhere, so I've been told, and forever, this article will be floating around in the galaxy that is known as the Internet. I suppose I should count this as a success.
So, maybe, the names I want on that service board, under the appropriate rubrics, will be forever absent. So (?) what! We Stellas are resilient. We'll get by
In the previous draft that followed my first enlightenment, I mention that, even with so many names missing, getting that service board erected was eminently laudable. And so, I concluded that previous draft with a list of names of members of the committee, justifiably credited with getting the service board erected. Maybe, I should repeat the list. But I won't. My second enlightenment gave me new eyes.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In a mood, similar to that which infuses the text above the line of green asterisks, I should like to animadvert to what I recently witnessed on some 24/7-news cable channel. I guess the proper term for what got broadcast was "video opportunity".
Wood'ja (?) buh-leave! A crowd of military service personnel had gathered for a pep talk, to be delivered by, of all people, Vice President Dick Cheney. As he went to the podium, the crowd cheered and applauded.
Anyway, my teevee screen showed the vice president striding past a row of people, decked out in military regalia. The one exception in civvies was an armless and legless man. In an attempt to participate in the applause, he mimicked clapping with his stumps. The display was, in my considered opinion, grotesquely ludicrous.
Oh, alright (!) already, call me "imaginatively sensitive", if you must. Whatever the case, somehow within earshot of my mind, I heard that amputee cry out,
"Look at me! Look at me! Please! I need attention. Please!"
Had the vice president halted in his progress towards the podium, and exchanged words with that unfortunate, I think I would've gasped ... maybe, even feared for the end of the world. Truth be told and in fairness to our Vice President, I don't think that former president Bill "I feel you pain" Clinton would've halted. Again, truth be told but in fairness to the former president, he'd be way far more likely to do so than vee pee "little dickey sunshine".
More than true enough, I am still just a tad irked by the absence of my father's and brothers' names from the Community Veterans' Service Board. Lots of things irk me, but very few impel me to grouse.
Lemme tell'ya true, rarely have I ever felt such dismay for the plight of another human being as that evoked by that of that amputee.
For the love of God, somebody should've halted, and said something like,
"In compliance with your government's policies, you stood in harm's way. Your doing so cost you and yours dearly. My saying 'your nation is grateful' would be grotesquely ludicrous. But let me say this, 'Whatever good can extracted from the fiasco, in which you and so many others lost so much, I will do my best to extract. That much, you're owed'."
.... aaaay, you, whyz.ache.err, you realize you're living in the 21st century, right? Likely enough, something like that would have to happen before the lens of a teevee camera ... aaay, I doubt there's any other way that could happen.
ya'wanna know what's cheering me, as I write the piece. Get a little closer to the monitor, and I'll enlighten you.
I'll be the first to admit to being disappointed over Karl Rove's apparent avoidance of indictment ... ah, slimily slipping off the hook, so to say. Likely enough, the bushie cronies heaved a heavy sigh of relief, because only that "scooter" guy got indicted. Well, I got sour news for them.
The man, who had assembled the evidence that put that "scooter guy" squarely in legal cross-hairs, is after much bigger game. What's more, he ain't no jackass in the manner of a "Kenny Boy" Starr, who tried to bring down then President Bill "I feel your pain" Clinton with invented evidence. No and no again, the man, who nailed "scooter" is neither coward nor fool.
According to certain news reports, just before this man, Special Prosecutor Patrick "Cap'n Ahab" Fitzgerald, handed scooter the latter's well earned and richly deserved indictment, he had met with Rove's attorney. Something tells me a deal was cut. I'm willing to wager my five doughnuts to somebody's three that Karl "slime" Rove squealed. ... ya'know, I wouldn't be surprised if I were to learn that, in the dead of the night, slime and his attorney and Cap'n Ahab sat down for a deposition.
... ya'know, I look forward to hearing the right wing squeal. Of course, that segment of our political spectrum will attribute all sorts of evil motives to Cap'n Ahab.
gee ... the truth told with evil intent beats all the lies you can invent. Incidentally, I'm quoting Samuel Leghorn Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.
One might wonder what could be making Cap'n Ahab run. Oh, well, maybe, he bears emotional scars, inflicted when he was five years. When five-year-old girls were giving parties for their friends, supposedly, a look-out was stationed to prevent his crashing.
Here's a remark for the bushies to chew on, after they get their butts kicked out the White House. It is only prudent for fraternity social chairmen to eschew being sought for whale oil by an "Asperger's syndrome".
.he who is known as sefton