Grieving for Notorious RBG

(All photographs by Doreen Stratton)

This past Saturday night at least 400 citizens filled the entrance sidewalk of the Bucks County Administration building to grieve the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She died on Friday September 18 after years of struggle against debilitating illnesses that for others, would have ended their lives sooner. She was truly Notorious.

Many could feel her presence.

The Welcome is offered by Marlene Pray, Director and Founder of Doylestown’s Rainbow Room

The Jewish ritual of leaving a stone at a deceased grave was explained. Many came forward to take a stone.

Rest In Peace Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Walking home after the gathering, when I passed the parking garage at Court and Broad Streets it brought memories of the Borough School that once stood on that ground. The building was destroyed by fire in February 1973. Constructed in 1889 with stone,  some of my ancestors attended the school in the early 1920s; and also where I had received the first six years of my education. It was also for many years the polling site for our precinct. I remember when still a child, my parents allowed me to tag along as they walked to the polls to cast their vote. Since then Voting has always been a part of my DNA.

Just as Education is Power, so is Voting. Listening to the young citizens that spoke at the RBG gathering gives me Hope. Like many of my age who’ve been active for progressive causes, our shoulders remain strong enough for this next generation to stand on. The last speaker spoke the message loud and clear: On November 3rd, EVERYBODY Must Vote.

When NPR reported  the death of Justice Ginsberg, they added that days before her death she had dictated a statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera. The Justice had said her “most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed”.

The squatter in the White House is stealing our Democracy’s most present jewel: The Vote. As soon as your Vote By Mail ballot arrives, fill in all those little circles right away. When mine arrives, I’m filling it out and walking to my Court House and personally handing my ballot into the Board of Elections office.

If you’re voting in person: Just Do It!


Remembering 9/11

(This edited from a post first published on September 10, 2016)

(Doreen Stratton photo from Seward Johnson Center in Hamilton, NJ)

Everybody remembers where they were on September 11, 2001. Shortly after 8:30 on that morning I’m driving along the Doylestown Bypass for an appointment with my broker. While listening to the morning talk radio sports hosts joke about some athlete’s faux pas, suddenly one says, “Oh–we just got a bulletin that a plane crashed into one of the towers at the World Trade Center in New York City.”

I ask myself, How does a “… plane … crash” into a World Trade Center building?

I’m in the conference room, a television newscaster’s words drift from the next office, confirming that two jets crashed into each of the World Trade Towers. Then the broker returns to the conference room and announces, “They just hit the Pentagon.”

The third attack is aborted over the skies of Somerset County in western Pennsylvania. This time the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 after learning the tragedies in New York and Washington DC, overpower the hijackers and the jet crashes on an empty field.

For the next few weeks like many other Americans I sit in front of my television, mesmerized by the images on the screen. People begin gathering at sites near the destroyed Towers posting pictures and messages for their lost loved ones. There are faces upon faces of photos of people who were in those two buildings and are now missing or possibly dead. Media coverage of interviews with relatives, friends or coworkers describe the lives of the missing–where they lived, who they married, their families and where they worked inside the Towers.

The number of Twin Tower deaths eventually reaches 2,606 with an additional 343 firefighters, 37 Port Authority Police Officers, 23 Police Officers, and 2 Paramedics. All total, nearly 3,000 people died from the three airline hijackings; in the World Trade Towers; and inside the Pentagon. Since 9/11, a September 10, 2018 ABC News article reported deaths an additional 156 police officers and 182 firefighters.

The number of Bucks County residents killed on 9/11 are memorialized at The Garden of Remembrance, located at 1950 Woodside Road in Yardley where every September, a ceremony is held.

In September 2016 I posted a blog about 9/11 that featured two films connected to the World Trade Twin Towers:

  • Man on Wire. This 2008 documentary featured Phillippe Petit’s journey of his determination to become the only man that walked on a wire between the roofs of the two World Trade Towers.
  • The Walk. This 2015 docudrama with Joseph Gordon Levitt as Petit, retells the wire walker’s life when as a young street juggler in Paris he reads an article about construction of the two towers. From then he is determined to walk a wire from the roof of one building to the other. His dream came to fruition on August 7, 1974.

The history of the two Towers reaches back decades. The first tenants moved into the North Tower during December 1970. In September 1971, tenants began moving into the South Tower. A character in The Walk offhandedly described the towers as “two filing cabinets”; but after Petit’s unbelievable feat two of his friends tell him, “You have given The Towers Soul!” Another adds, “They’re different now, because you walked up there.”

There’ve been many films on our small and large screens with images of the Towers, either with the sun bouncing off the gleaming walls or lights peeking out from the night sky. Whenever the Towers briefly appear in films, the words spoken by the characters in The Walk are absolute:  They are truly “different”.

Just last week I caught a glimpse of the Towers on my television screen. And once more, it was like rediscovering two long-lost souls of September 11.

Always remembered.