As public pressure continues to build, the enemy hiding in the sky high castle-like structure—now out of leverage—has agreed to meet with a group of soldiers who’ve strategically targeted him for more than a year.
A graduate of the former Thomas Edison High, a Northeast Philadelphia school that had more students killed in the Vietnam War than any other in the nation, Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke has invited eight (8) members of Pointman Heart Soldiers Ministry—an advocacy organization that describes itself as the first line of defense for vulnerable veterans—to meet with him tomorrow afternoon at 1pm in City Hall, Council Caucus Room, during a roundtable presented by the Veterans Advisory Commission.
The group who was labeled in the media as “violent and radical” by Wanda Tate-Dennis, Veterans Coordinator, Office of City Council President, says while Clarke is making progress by stepping outside of his bunker, they stress the point that he, and the entire municipality, is not fulfilling the obligations cited in the Veteran Preference Act of 1954, which “is still a law,” states Ari Merretazon, the organization’s Chief-of-Staff, and the soldier whose story was bought to the big screen by Actor Lorenz Tate in the 1995 major motion picture Dead Presidents.
Not a fan of Clarke due to his longstanding unwillingness to appoint a full-time Director of Veterans Affairs that works as liaison between veterans and the VA, Merretazon is now outraged that upon the destruction of Edison High and the announcement of its replacement, Edison Square – a strip mall with plans to include several budget-line food stores – that the City Council President didn’t advocate for a veterans memorial.
“Darrell Clarke is a graduate of Edison High yet he has no respect for the 64 veterans who sacrificed their lives for him and this entire country. He has never attended the annual memorial ceremony to honor Edison’s fallen warriors. He has aspirations to be the Mayor, but how can we depend on him as Philadelphia’s leader without him first apologizing and repairing the damage he has done and is doing to the veteran community in the nation’s fifth largest city.”
Merretazon, who just last month was invited to Capitol Hill to receive the 2013 Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust Award for his works serving those returning from war, says Clarke isn’t setting the agenda, but instead is allowing PHSM to frame the conversation.
The 2012 BMe Leadership Award Winner says the meeting will be more than likely closed off to the media, but tells Techbook Online exclusively that the critical issues to be discussed are a) a process for appointing a director of veterans’ affairs, b) a process for appointing citizens, including women, to the Philadelphia Veterans Advisory Commission; c) the establishment of a grave registration record; d) recommendations for veterans’ public policy; e) a memorial placed at city hall, a memorial at 8th & Lehigh (the original site), and a memorial at Edison/Fareira (new site) for the 64 Edison High School veterans who were killed in Vietnam; f) a tracking system of veterans applying for benefits; g) support for POINTMAN’s application to be recognized with other nationally chartered veterans service organizations; and h) a meeting with the democratic party state chairperson.
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This post originally appeared at Techbook Online
Feature Photo: C. Norris/Pointman Heart Soldiers Ministry during their first ever citywide symposium of veteran affairs
Photo: C. Norris/Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke speaks with a local reporter