Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Holiday ‘blues’ leaves many for dead; but not in a way we’d honor and respect

It was Memorial Day on Monday, and we were supposed to be paying tribute to those people who served in the military and wound up making the “ultimate sacrifice,” as some people like to phrase it.

Yet I wonder if we’d have been better off paying some sort of tribute to those of us Chicagoans who wound up getting caught in the crossfire, so to speak, and being shot – if not outright killed.

FOR WHILE MANY people wanted to talk about long-ago casualties in places like Khe Sahn, Normandy Beach (we’re only a couple of weeks shy of the 71st anniversary of D-Day) or Fallujah, certain of our own streets seem to be just as deadly.

For it seems that during the holiday weekend, there were nine people killed by gunfire and at least 34 others wounded. Unless you prefer to believe the Chicago Tribune, in which case, it was 41 people.

There’s always the chance that the figures could go higher by the time you actually read this, since one of those wounded may wind up becoming a fatality.

Now I’m not implying there’s something special about these holiday weekends that causes more people to become fatalities. I recall my own days of full-time police reporting back when I was with the now-defunct City News Bureau. It was back then that I learned to dread holiday weekends.

NOT BECAUSE I cared about the fact that one year, I worked every single major holiday that “real people” were given off as paid holidays.

But it was because of the tendency to pay extra close attention to every single incident of mayhem that occurs at such times. Not only running totals of every single auto accident, but of just about any incident that occurs in someone’s death.

Sometimes, I wonder if such attention somehow causes higher numbers of incidents. Or maybe we’re just made more aware of how deadly conditions can be in certain parts of Chicago.

Because it becomes way too easy to ignore for those of us who don’t live in certain parts of Chicago – which a Tribune story on Monday managed to define as being from the north end of the Bronzeville neighborhood south into the Englewood neighborhood.

THE PLACES WHERE the “Chiraq” label isn’t all that much of an exaggeration, and where our city officials wish they didn’t have to devote so much time and attention.

The image many of us want of Chicago
Better for them if they could think the seedy side of Chicago is the so-called “Bundy Fountain” that foreign tourists ask to see, and which the rest of us know as Buckingham Fountain.

It would be sad if it turned out that Memorial Day went into the mindset of a significant number of Chicagoans as a bloodbath. Since it seems several of the shootings and at least two of the fatalities were on Monday proper.

The day that some people are devoting to trying out a special sauce to go with their holiday barbecues will be the day that some families remember as the one where a loved one died.

ALTHOUGH I’M SURE it won’t be thought of that way. In fact, I’m sure some people will want to think of such a thought as being overly morbid. Perhaps even subversive.

They’d rather think of death on this holiday weekend in the abstract – as in something that occurred on a battlefield overseas and where noble words about “honor” and “duty” can be tossed about.
The great shame of the bloodshed that occurred in Chicago this past weekend is that many of these were young people – the fatalities were as young as 15 and the wounded included a 4-year-old girl.

The way some view holiday's death
People whose lives were cut off prior to reaching their prime; before they could even have a chance to serve their country and possibly make that “ultimate sacrifice” that would probably be the only way that would cause some in our society to recognize their worth as human beings.


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