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Parallels between Europe and Jim Thorpe

Published April 19. 2019 11:24AM

The fire damage to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris just before Easter might serve as a teachable moment for us all. A similar disaster might have occurred in Jim Thorpe recently had the SOS (Save Our Sanctuary) organization not taken legal action to stop the Susquehanna Street Project scheduled to demolish the bedrock on two sides of St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Intense vibrations caused by this work could have traveled through the bedrock into the walls and foundation to cause severe, even irreparable damage to this national historic landmark church and tourist attraction.

There are parallels and similarities between Europe and Jim Thorpe. Many of the tourists who travel to Europe do so to enjoy its scenery, rich history, museums and exquisite buildings. Many Americans of European descent also travel there to meet distant relatives and explore ancestral villages, while others enjoy outdoor recreational activities.

On a smaller scale than Europe, we also have amazing landscapes, awesome, well-preserved buildings and outdoor recreational opportunities. One out of five Americans of European descent can trace at least one ancestral relative back to northeastern Pennsylvania.

Over the past several decades, entrepreneurial visionaries worked hard to rescue this once impoverished coal town to create a mecca for tourists once again. This economic engine has grown to generate one of the highest revenue streams in the county.

When America rebuilt parts of Europe after World War II, President Harry Truman, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and George C. Marshall did not neglect to preserve its architectural, historical and cultural treasures. These men had the foresight to realize that there is dignity and a sense of purpose in one’s heritage and cultural artifacts that were vital to these war-ravaged countries. By rebuilding and preserving these treasures, future tourism would also play a significant part in its economic growth.

SOS is committed to preventing any harm to St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church. Additionally, there is resistance to the disappearance of much needed public parking and the 19th-century ambience in its downtown. Both will be diminished by the Susquehanna Street Project. We hope that those who have shown little regard for the importance of this tourist destination community might be humbled by the awful tragedy in France and adjust their priorities accordingly.

Any questions or concerns can be directed to the church office at 570-325-2241.

Michael Martin McKee


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