At 10 to 6 January 31st I walked over to the emergency room at Braddock Hospital. I just wanted to stand there and silently witness the closing of the metal gate. Tony Buba showed up and we stood there, both taking pictures with our simple camera phones. A small group of people came and a woman placed a cross and wreath against the hard cold metal and stood quietly for a few moments. A testimonial to the death of a dear friend and neighbor. A tribute to the people who worked there so faithfully to care for the needy and the marginalized.
It was a spiritual experience for me. Poignant. Sad. Heart-breaking. Tears flowing, I quietly walked home.
I believe that places can be personal and sacred. Like mountains and rivers and churches and steel mills and people. They evoke the real living vibrant energies of the people who have toiled in them and inhabited them. If corporations can be given expensive personhood rights by the Supreme Court, then certainly this hospital—more than a century old—has “corporate” status as well.
I’ve known this building in its many manifestations since I was a child. My father was pronounced dead in that ER. My Mom worked there and volunteered with the Cot Club. My brother was stabilized there twice with serious traumas. I was treated there for 2nd degree burns when I was 7.
I wore my We Are Alive tee-shirt because I believe that like David and Moses we will ultimately win this war with the Goliaths and Pharaohs and UPMC’s of the world. Perhaps you may remember when Peter, Paul and Mary (RIP) sang The Great Mandella during the Vietnam War: “Take your place on the great mandella as it moves through your brief moment of time. Win or lose now, we must choose now. And if you lose you’re only losing your life.”
All that’s required of us in life is to remain faithful to God and to each other and to the struggle for justice.
WE ARE ALIVE! Which side are you on? Keep on carrying on!
Pat Morgan is a member of the SOCH Steering Committee and a lifelong resident of Braddock.