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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What's in a name?

As I had heard on Friday and read in a recent edition of the Scranton Times, there apparently is a push to name a new Scranton elementary school after a deceased firefighter, Captain James Robeson.  You can read an article about this HERE.  As referenced in the article, there is a Facebook page dedicated this cause, which can be found HERE.

I'll be blunt:  I don't think the school should be named after Captain Robeson.  While I certainly admire his sacrifice, I'm just not sure:

1.  How that sacrifice translates into the name of a school
2.  If naming a school after Captain Robeson is a fitting tribute

Let me expand on those two arguments.

Who Should A School Be Named After?
I believe that the school name should somehow connect with ideals and/or advocacy for education.  Someone who was an educator would make an ideal candidate for this honor.  Someone who helped the cause of education through their work.  Someone who set an example of life-long learning.  All of these seem to be the traits I think would best exemplify a naming candidate.  Here are some names that come to my mind:

Former Governor Casey...tie to Scranton, strong advocate for education
Secretary of State Clinton...tie to Scranton, well educated, children's advocate

Is This A Fitting Tribute?
I don't think that there is any kind of connection between Captain Robeson and the new school.  There is no connection between firemen and schools period, unless of course a firemen would happen to get injured or die after fighting a fire at a school.  If the only criteria for naming a school was death while in public service, I think there are about 9 Scranton firefighters over the past decades who have died in the line of duty.  Shouldn't they get equal consideration with Captain Robeson?  What's more, we've had policemen and DPW workers die in the line of duty.  Is their sacrifice somehow less than that of Captain Robeson?  

Captain Robeson should be honored in a manner that acknowledges his unique sacrifice as a fireman.  Maybe that means naming a fire-station after him.  Perhaps (if one doesn't already exist) having a monument built in a city park to honor his (and others) sacrifices.

With his heroism rightfully noted, Captain Robeson has no connection to education, children (other than his own) or an advocacy for life-long learning.  This makes him ill-suited for this specific honor.  Let's not simply look for honors for the guy; let's find appropriate ways to honor him and the others who died serving the citizens of Scranton.

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