Diamonds to those who continue the time-honored tradition of placing flags on the graves of our military veterans, and an earnest plea to everyone else to consider joining the effort each Memorial Day. This has long been the purview primarily of veteran organizations and Boy Scout troops, but as Jennifer Learn Andes reported last week, a shortage of volunteers has developed. Ron Faust, adjutant of the West Pittston American Legion, gave the quintessential reason to help: “All of these markers represent somebody who made a commitment, and they were away from their families.” They and their families deserve this small token from the rest of us. If you want to donate some time — or better yet, if you belong to an organization willing to provide volunteers — Luzerne County Veteran Affairs Director James Spagnola suggests contacting a local veteran service organization, or call his office at 570-706-3960. It is a small act of thanks to those who offered a tremendous and selfless service.
Coal to Penn State University for citing lack of cellphone coverage as one reason for halting excursions by the student-run Outdoor Club. As writer Tom Venesky put it in a column last Sunday, “if there are college students willing to go places where they might not be able to use their phones, that is something that should be encouraged.” Modern smart phones may be a boon in many ways, but they become bane when people get so obsessed they can’t turn away from the screens. We are becoming a nation of distracted drivers, absent-minded pedestrians and ill-mannered companions as we relentlessly check our Twitter feeds, our Facebook updates, our texts and our turn at “Words with Friends.” There are ample studies showing the downside of too much screen time, and plenty of evidence that time immersed in nature, disconnected from the wired world, produces measurable health benefits. Here’s hoping local schools and other don’t follow Penn State’s lead. Cellphone access can’t become the defining requirement for every place we venture.
Diamonds to all those who continue to help stage Wilkes-Barre’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival. It may be a relatively modest affair that hinges heavily on the weather, but it has drawn crowds to Kirby Park for 41 years. The park remains one of the region’s jewels, despite a little fraying around the edges at times, and anything that draws attention to it is worthy of a little praise. This event routinely offers a nice array of food vendors and some very family-friendly entertainment. Kudos to the groups that performed, and to the city workers behind the scenes who kept the grounds neat and ready to go both mornings.
Coal to Wilkes-Barre City officials for continuing the bizarre refusal to release the report from the police department review. If the report were not already widely circulated online thanks to local media, this strange behavior might make at least a little sense. For a city where trust in the thin blue line has eroded amid rancor, the lack of transparency only makes things worse.