Vigil held by Parents of Murdered Children
UPPER CHICHESTER>> Sept. 25 is a special day for families coping with the murder of a child.
Declared National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims back in 2007, it’s a day where members of the national group Parents of Murdered Children hold annual vigils to remember the loss of a child from toddlers to adults.
The Delaware County chapter held their annual memorial observance at their Living Memorial Gardens in Upper Chichester Sunday evening, celebrating both the lives violently taken from their parents and the chapter’s 15th anniversary of the gardens’ opening.
“The grief is still there, and never goes away,” said POMC Chapter Leader Jane McPhee, whose stepdaughter was murdered back in 2001. “but we do have their memories to keep us going. Thank goodness for pictures, articles and any personal items we have been able to preserve over the years to remind us of them.”
The memories are seen on over 50 individual gardens, or plots, on the 3.5 acres of desolate wooden solace, each distinctly reserved by a bench with the lost one’s name. Pictures, sports memorabilia, trinkets and other notables are placed about on the gardens by family members who have agreed to take care of their loved one’s space.
Brookhaven resident Dorothy Green has had a garden in her son’s name, Jonathan, since his murder in March 2014 at the age of 37.
This was the first year she attended a vigil for POMC.
“It was very nice and it was a wonderful remembrance,” Green said, holding a picture of her son close to her heart, noting that he would have turned 40 this Wednesday if he were still alive.
No one has yet been charged for that Chester Township murder.
In Assistant District Attorney Michael Galantino’s eyes, justice is one of the three most important things for families to have.
“Justice is sometimes an elusive thing, and I know that some of you have not been able to get justice for various reasons,” said Galantino. “But all of you need and deserve justice in some way.”
“For you, I hope that the district attorney’s office can deliver some degree of justice to the best that we can, that we can work with law enforcement and first responders and the community… to bring justice for all of you.”
State Rep. Stephen Barrar, R-160, of Upper Chichester, who helped open the gardens 15 years ago said these parents and other family members are hard to talk to because of their grief.
“Somebody ripped your heart out, and as a person who writes speeches my job is to find in that speech words of comfort, words that will make things better somehow, and also words of hope,” said Barrar. “You’re in a very tough situation and it breaks my heart.”
Barrar added his shock in knowing how much larger the space has gotten since its opening.
“It shouldn’t be this big. It should be smaller, not larger,” he said.
When all of the speakers had spoken, the candles lit, and the songs sung, attendees made the most of the last bit of sunlight to lay flowers in the gardens, and cross their messages of support to each other.
State Rep. Stephen Barrar, R-160, of Upper Chichester, speaks to family members at Sunday evening’s vigil.
The lawn fixture at this garden asks people to treasure the memories. Family members decorate gardens with photos, signs and other effects to help them remembered their lost loved ones.
Dorothy Green, of Brookhaven, holds a picture of her son, Jonathan, during the Delaware County Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children’s annual vigil at the Living Memorial Gardens. Jonathan was murdered in Chester Township in 2014 at the age of 37.