Thursday, July 2, 2015

Having to flee one’s home ought to be a disgrace on an Independence Day

I recall a day from back when I was a kid and my brother and I went with our mother for a day-long visit to grandma’s house.

Putting in overtime this coming weekend
What provoked this visit wasn’t any real desire to see the relatives. It was that there was talk of white supremacists feeling the need to come to our neighborhood in suburban Lansing and hold a rally of sorts, just a couple of blocks from where we lived.

NOW I DON’T remember the specifics of this particular rally, which would have been back in the late 1970s. I seem to recall a local radio personality (and by local, I mean someone on a suburban-based radio station whom most of Chicago would never have heard of) who got all worked up over “Roots” being shown on television.

So perhaps it was a batch of crackpots showing unity in their outrage over having some of the horrors of slavery in this country being illustrated on national television – and living on to this day on DVD.

Or maybe it was some other outrage the bigots felt. Quite frankly, those people rarely have any sense of logic about the way they perceive anything. So who knows what bothered them?

All I remember is that my mother didn’t want to be around. So off to grandma’s we went.

IF MY MEMORY is correct, that rally didn’t amount to much. I was told by people who didn’t leave that day that it turned into a few people yelling and shouting and screaming and pretty much making fools of themselves.

I do recall that when we came back home, there was quite a bit of trash strewn around the streets on the block where we lived. Much more than would be if it were just a neighbor’s dog running loose and getting into the neighbor’s trash cans.

But that was the extent. A fairly minor incident, and not one whose details have really clung into the crevasses of my mind.

Not everybody will view Independence Day in this way
Although that feeling of having to leave our home for the day because we didn’t want to get caught up as collateral damage, of sorts, popped into my mind Wednesday when I stumbled across a Chicago Tribune report about how some Chicagoans are planning weekend trips this weekend because they don’t want to get struck by stray gunfire.

I FEEL GRATEFUL that I have never lived in a South Side neighborhood where such an approach to life during the holidays is commonplace.

Although it strikes me as particularly odd that on a holiday meant to celebrate the ideals upon which this nation was founded (“life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and all that jazz), some people feel the way to protect their lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness is to skip town.

Because there are those individuals who view Independence Day solely in the context of explosives and the chance to set off rounds of gunfire.

As a reporter-type person, I have seen the many holiday weekends in which people wind up getting picked off by stray bullets. I remember one incident where a bullet fired into the air wound up coming back to Earth about a mile away before someone got shot (although the oddest incident I recall from my police reporter days was the naked woman being chased around 95th Street and Western Avenue on a New Year’s Eve some three decades ago).

THE NEWSPAPER REPORTED about how there also will be extra police on duty this holiday weekend. Hospitals also are working to ensure they won’t be short-staffed if they get a sudden flood of gunshot wound victims.

It makes my one-time incident of having to see grandma for a full day seem kind of minor by comparison, because it wasn’t an annual tradition of a trip that we planned to make just to survive.

So while some people may think the quintessential Chicago holiday weekend is attending the Grateful Dead (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) concert or festivities at Navy Pier, keep in mind that some people think a successful holiday involves just staying alive.


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