The Cincinnati Recreation Commission has signed off on plans to rename East Hyde Park Commons to Officer Sonny Kim Memorial Park. Officer Sonny Kim was shot and killed in the line of duty in Madisonville on June 19th of this year. I was very happy to see this happen as I truly believe that Officer Sonny Kim is deserving of the praise and recognition. He not only died a heroes death, he lived a heroes life. However, he is not the only one.
It occurred to me that although Sonny Kim is deserving of this recognition, many others have also paid the ultimate price, both police officers and fire fighters, and have not received due recognition for their heroic lives from the City of Cincinnati Government. With this in mind, I sent an email to Council Members Christopher Smitherman, Charlie Winburn, and Kevin Flynn, all members of the Law and Public Safety Committee. The text of my email was as follows:
“I think it is wonderful that Sonny Kim is getting a park named after him. This is a lasting tribute to one of Cincinnati’s true heroes. I do not wish to take away from that but I have to question, what about all the other fallen heroes. The traumatic 70’s brought the death of many others including Howard Smith, David Cole, Charles Handorf, William Loftin, Robert Lally, Charles Burdsall, Robert Sieffert, Dennis Bennington and Melvin Henze, heroes all. Where are the parks or streets renamed to honor them. Not even an alley, as was requested for Melvin Henze and turned down by City Council. Our heroes continued to fall through the 80’s, the 90s, and to the present. Sonny Kim absolutely deserves the recognition he is receiving, but so do the rest. Let us not forget their sacrifices.”
To date, not one of the three bothered to acknowledge or respond to the email. I followed this up by putting the same text on the Facebook Wall of Council member Wendell Young. Mr. Young was gracious enough to respond with the following comment:
“I understand your sentiment. I wish there was a way to do what you suggest. Sadly there are so many and God forbid but there will likely be others. People like us understand this. I do believe Sonny’s being honored does, in a sense, honor all of our fallen heroes. Certainly the memorial at across from 310 accomplishes that. If you have some ideas of how to provide individual honors, I’m certainly willing to listen.”
Thank you Mr. Young for the courtesy of a response.
I thought that perhaps this was a long over due idea. I did not realize how many other efforts were made to memorialize our fallen heroes until I received a communiqué from Steve Kramer, the director of the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society. Mr Kramer reports:
“The FOP, back in a day, pushed to have street names changed and to change Lincoln Park Drive to Police Memorial Boulevard. Instead, it was named ECD. We then tried to get the 300 block named Police Memorial Square. Turned town. I few years ago, after our Secretary MaryLou Berning saw Phoenix LODD signs on the streets, the Museum tried to get signs. We tried to get John Davis, the first LODD, honored in Washington Park when they redid the other two monuments there. Nope. We tried to get a monument, paid for by the Bennington Family, at Oak and May. Nope. We tried again to get the 300 block of ECD changed – keep in mind all the contiguous property is owned by the City. Nope. In May, we talked to Cecil Thomas again. Nothing. Now we and the FOP are working with Council again. Sigh…. “
I was unaware of all the efforts already made on behalf of our fallen heroes and I did not know that past City Councils were so obtuse to the suggestions. I cannot help but wonder why? It is not as if other streets have not been named to honor someone. We do have Harrison Avenue, Martin Luthor King Drive, and Derrick Turnbow Avenue, to name a few. Are our fallen heroes less entitled?
Also included in my email to the Law and Public Safety Committee and to Mr. Young on his Facebook Page were some specific suggestions, as follows:
“I would recommend that any street where any Officer shed their blood and gave their life be renamed in their honor. Gilbert Ave becomes David Cole Ave. , Vine Street becomes Clifford George St, West Hollister becomes Pope-Jeter St (or Jeter-Pope Street) and so on. How about a large park, such as Eden Park be renamed to honor all Police and Fire fallen heroes collectively. Then the memorials for both services be moved to those parks where they are more easily accessible to the community and thus help raise awareness.”
I think of all the city parks, Eden Park would be the best location. The park is not currently named to memorialize anyone as it is named after the Garden of Eden. Additionally, a start in this direction has already been made because the Viet Nam Memorial is located in this park. Eden park is large enough and has several very beautiful Ohio River overlooks. Moving the current memorial sites to these various overlooks would only serve to help beautify the overlook and bring public attention to the many who have given their lives for this city or for their country.
Wendell Young s concern that there are too many and will probably be more is not valid, in my opinion. There are certainly many more streets than there are fallen heroes. If that process would be too overwhelming then I would suggest that at the very least a memorial sign be posted at each and every location where one of our heroes has shed their blood and given their lives while protecting the city and its residents. They died for us. The very least we could do is remember them.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
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