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Fallen Camden Marine subject of controversy

By CAROLINE GABLE

CAMDEN, NY (WKTV) - - There is controversy in Camden, over just how to honor a fallen Marine who made the ultimate sacrifice in 2006.

Sgt. Eli Parker was killed in Iraq. Following his death, the Parker family was approached about honoring him by naming a portion of Route 13 after him.

While some residents think the road should be named after him, others disagree.

Many communities in Oneida County have individually recognized fallen soldiers by naming bridges and roads after those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The street sign would ceremonially be named after Parker, but wouldn't change residents addresses.
Some residents say the sign won't happen after the Camden Village Board wrote Assemblyman David Townsend saying they were not in favor of legislation to honor just one fallen soldier. Members of the American Legion say honoring one individual is unfair when many have given their lives and those at the V.F.W. echoed the same sentiment Tuesday night.

"I think its been very divisive for the community," said Camden resident Jeff Waterman. "I feel very bad for the Parker family, they lost their son but we've lost quite a few young boys, either in World War One, or Vietnam and its quite difficult to name a street after one of them. I wish there wouldn't be so much controversy about it, but its divided the town, unfortunately."

Those who personally knew Parker couldn't disagree more. Sgt. Mark Ebensperger graduated with with Sgt. Parker back in 2002.

"He gave his life for our country so we can live free and help the people that can't defend themselves," Sgt. Ebensperger said. "He gave his life and we are trying to rename Route 13 after him, and the board is putting up a big stink that we can't. It's a great way to honor one of our fallen from town."

Ebensperger says resistance to the idea is the wrong way to honor a hometown hero.

Tuesday the Camden Village Board continued to discuss this issue, speaking about how to compromise between those who want the sign with Parker's name and those who don't want it at all. The board is now working on a recommendation to send to Townsend's office that would have an all inclusive title, honoring all local soldiers.

Calls to the Parker family have not yet been returned.

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