Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Rebuilding a Memorial

Last Memorial Day, standing near his Fairmount home, Jim Kernaghan solemnly watched as a band of graying men stood in Veterans Park to commemorate their patriotic service. Before they concluded their ceremony, held for years, amid the park's discarded trash and broken bottles, the men taped small red-white-and-blue flags to the faceless tower, which sits on the south side of Girard Avenue and 31st Street. Somewhere, the ornate plaque that listed the names of the neighborhood boys lost in World War I disappeared. The monument saluting the women who supported their efforts lies on the ground, toppled over. Kernaghan thought, “We really have to do something here.”

Rebuilding a Memorial

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Veterans Park by Kia Gregory

Last Memorial Day, standing near his Fairmount home, Jim Kernaghan solemnly watched as a band of graying men stood in Veterans Park to commemorate their patriotic service. Before they concluded their ceremony, held for years, amid the park's discarded trash and broken bottles, the men taped small red-white-and-blue flags to the faceless tower, which sits on the south side of Girard Avenue and 31st Street. Somewhere, the ornate plaque that listed the names of the neighborhood boys lost in World War I disappeared. The monument saluting the women who supported their efforts lies on the ground, toppled over. Kernaghan thought, “We really have to do something here.”

Kernaghan, 40, a former member of the PA National Guard, deployed to a peace-keeping mission in Bosnia after 9/11, organized a team of volunteers to raise money for a more respectable tribute. With the help of the Fairmount CDC, the goal is to collect $15,000 to restore the forgotten memorial. The rebuilding will include: a plaque honoring local veterans of all wars; a flagpole with the American Flag and the POW Flag; a new landscape design and plantings; and benches for visitors and veterans - hopefully in time for Memorial Day.

Kernaghan says he is close to his goal, and explains his motivation as: "It’s just what’s right.”

About this blog

Kia Gregory is a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. She's a proud native of the city and an alumna of Temple University. Contact Kia by e-mail by clicking here, or by phone at 215-854-2601.


Vernon Clark, a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, has reported extensively neighborhood issues in North and Northwest Philadelphia. Vernon has also been an editor for the Inquirer and has worked as an editor and writer at the Boston Globe and Akron Beacon Journal. Contact Vernon by e-mail by clicking here, or by phone at 215-854-5717.

Kia Gregory & Vernon Clark
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