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When it comes to honoring its fallen heroes, the borough of Queens is second to none. Borough President Claire Shulman began a week of memorial tributes on May 22 in a solemn ceremony at Borough Hall honoring the men and women who served their country in Vietnam. She noted that there are nearly 30,000 veterans of that war living in Queens.
Once again this week parades were held in College Point, Whitestone, Laurelton, St. Albans, Forest Hills, Rockaway Beach and Maspeth. Not to mention the state's largest Memorial Day Parade held each year in Douglaston. Added to this are the many prayer services and flag-raising ceremonies hosted across the borough by the American Legion, VFW and other veterans groups.
As is always the case, the people of Queens are pausing to remember not just those who died in war but those who returned home to their families. Every year thousands of children, their parents and grandparents take time out to proudly display their patriotism. On the Memorial Day weekend, small-town America has nothing on Queens.
We can take some solace in the knowledge that an entire generation of Americans has escaped the tragedy of war. There are fewer veterans still alive who remember World War II and even the veterans of the Vietnam War are quickly graying.
Sadly in Queens there are too many veterans of the war in Vietnam who are not coping well. Some continue to battle homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction. With the same spirit that we honor their sacrifice each year in our parades, we must be equally sure that they receive the help they need to get their lives back on track.
Editorial: One year after
It is inevitable that in the coming months much attention will be focused on John Taylor, the sole remaining defendant in the Wendy's massacre. In all likelihood, the district attorney will seek the death penalty for Taylor if he is convicted of first-degree murder.
However, it would only compound the tragedy of that terrible night if the victims were forgotten, as society focused on what may become the first death-penalty case in Queens. For that reason we applaud those leaders who organized a memorial service honoring the five Wendy's workers who were slain. They were hardworking people, some young and some not so young. They worked for little more than minimum wage to provide for themselves and their families. In a very real sense of the word, they are everyman, a microcosm of the multicultural society of Flushing.
We applaud Ben Wong, who purchased the Wendys building and plans to open a small shopping mart there. Mr. Wong and his company, A.O. Realty, 40-12 Main St. Flushing, donated $18,000 to the Latchkey Enrichment Program at the Flushing Library on Main Street. This money will be used to provide tutoring and homework assistance to the school children who use this library. We would be hard-pressed to think of a more thoughtful or appropriate tribute.
Mr. Wong did not know the victims or their families. Had he opened his business without a mention of the massacre, no one could have faulted him. In his generosity, he offers a reminder that human kindness is a far more powerful and enduring force than the evil and greed that changed downtown Flushing forever one year ago.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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