The memorial contains the names of 101 young men who lost their lives in defense of this country during World War II. Our community has honored their memory each year at Memorial Day services and they are honored year round by American Legion Post 118 and the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, who keep the monument clean and adorned with flags and a memorial wreath.
Sadly, it’s not the first time this has happened in our community. In 1960, the monument was defaced by vandals who painted yellow swastikas on it. In 1965, the Christmas tree was sawed in half, flags stolen and benches damaged.
And in the 70s, the World War I Memorial at Whiting Square was the frequent target of vandals who tried to burn the flagpole.
So while we hope the media attention will lead to the arrest of these two jerks, we shouldn’t give them any more of our attention. Instead, let’s focus on the good that this community does. This is a good week to reflect on all of the things we’re thankful for and the good hearts of the residents of Woodhaven should not go unnoticed.
Just this past weekend, the members of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association came to our monthly town hall meeting armed with all kinds of toys. To that pile, we added a nice-sized donation of toys from the members of the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society.
On Sunday, we added Woodhaven’s donation to the massive pile of toys collected by the East Coast Car Association for their annual Toy Run to St. Mary's Hospital for Children.
Also this week, the WRBA opened its office for just a few hours and collected enough canned goods for homeless veterans to fill a car. This modest donation was added to an impressive haul collected from residents of Woodhaven, Ozone Park and Richmond Hill by Councilman Eric Ulrich.
At the same time, Assemblyman Mike Miller and his staff have been collecting for local food pantries and they’ve taken in a ton of donations at his office.
We should also be thankful to our local veterans, such as the men and women of American Legion Post 118 who acted swiftly and replaced the memorial wreath. Stacey Sager of Channel 7 Eyewitness News came out to file a live report at lunch, and by her 5 p.m. report she was standing in front a brand new wreath.
I'm thankful that I live in a community with good people like all the men and women who volunteer for WORKS Little League, which provides a healthy outlet for young boys and girls and whose Challenger Division is a wonderful experience for young children with special needs.
I'm thankful I live in a community with a group like the School Sisters of Notre Dame, whose educational center provides hope and a chance at a better life to women and their families.
I'm thankful I live in a community with volunteers such as the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps, who despite having every bit of bad piece of luck and bad city management thrown at them, still haven't thrown in the towel. And I'm thankful I live in a community that supports them and is willing to come out and fight for them.
I'm thankful for the good people who have invested in businesses here in Woodhaven, such as the WRBA’s Business of the Year, The Avenue Diner. I’m also thankful for the many historic businesses we have – Neir’s Tavern, Ohlert-Ruggiere, Walker Funeral Home, Pop’s Restaurant, Manor Deli, Schmidt’s Candies and the Leader/Observer – all of whom have been here close to a century or, in some cases, even longer.
I’m thankful we live in a community with a massive and beautiful park, crowned by our landmarked and legendary Forest Park Carousel.
I'm thankful for all the good churches here in Woodhaven and the good that they bring to our community, churches such as Emanuel United Church of Christ, All Saints, St. Luke's, St. Thomas the Apostle and more.
I'm thankful for all the good schools and good teachers in our community, teachers like Patti Eggers who take such a great interest in their students and getting them involved in our community. And I'm thankful for the students and the youth of this community – they are our future and it is a bright future indeed.
I'm thankful for my friends and neighbors and I’m especially thankful for my family; in that regard, I have been truly blessed.
When you put all of that on the scales, the good within this community far outweighs the stupid senseless act of a few insignificant drunks. We've never let jerks like that define Woodhaven before, and we're sure as hell not going to start now.