Asides for Oct. 25, 2009

Written by Susan Mannella on .

EVEN THE DEAD may have raised their eyebrows at the news last week that the area's most controversial politician, former Allegheny County Commissioner and Coroner Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, feeling freshly vindicated after beating the second of two unsuccessful criminal prosecutions related to his work at the morgue, had a singular honor bestowed upon him: The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office lab was named the "Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science," by proclamation of County Council. Putting aside the sensational aspects of his career, and hoping that his would-be nemesis U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan didn't need smelling salts, we can say that the honor isn't as contrary as it might seem. This lab is not just another public building; it is a place where the work of forensic science proceeds, and in that field Dr. Wecht is a nationally renowned expert who modernized the coroner's office over two stints lasting a total of 20 years. As soon as our eyebrows lower, we won't begrudge Dr. Wecht this honor justified by his professional expertise.

THE ONLY EYEBROW raising that might have greeted the White House ceremony last week honoring Vietnam veterans was that it took so long to happen. President Barack Obama honored members of Alpha Troop, First Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, for rescuing a company of U.S. soldiers in a fierce battle on March 26, 1970, near the Cambodian border. Although it took years for the brave deeds of that day to be recognized, Alpha Troop was finally awarded the Presidential Unit Citation in April. At the White House ceremony, Mr. Obama praised the heroism of the members of the unit, who included two vets from Western Pennsylvania - Ray Tarr, 59, of Kittanning, who later lost an eye in Cambodia, and his friend, Donnie Colwell, 61, of Jefferson County, who won a Silver Star for gallantry. It's never too late to salute.

AT LEAST PNC Park has not been named Cyril H. Wecht Stadium on account of the Pirates always being dead and subject to fan post-mortems come October. Not to go on about it, but we are reminded about the moribund Bucs because the Philadelphia Phillies last week secured their second berth in the World Series in two years. The defending world champions took the National League Championship Series 4-1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is galling enough for Pittsburgh fans who don'tĀ feel the love from the City of Brotherly Love, but the irritation is compounded by the perennial rigor mortis of the Bucs. Come on, Pirates management, surprise us next year by fielding a better team. Let our caps be raised by our eyebrows.

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