On January 15th, a few days ago, the New York Times ran an article entitled "50 Years Later, It feels Familiar: How America Fractured in 1968." I was struck by how I've used the same word, fractured, in the title of my book: Redlined: A Memoir of Race, Change, and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago. I'm going to share just a portion of that year as covered in my book.
Monday, January 15th, our country will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this year the actual date of his birthday. It takes me back to the day of his "Dream" speech, when Jim Crow was fighting to keep blacks separate and unequal.
I'd always known my grandfather was often impatient, and apparently was so as a young man. He didn't want to wait for the long visa process, so he just took off for America before his exit papers were in order, hoping to start the new year of 1911 in a new country. His diary "Meine Reise Nach Amerika" (My Trip to America), and letters to his sweetheart show that he almost didn't make it.
On Christmas Eve, Dad pulled out the sleigh bells from the closet. “When Santa finishes putting out all the gifts, he’ll shake these sleigh bells as a signal that he’s done. Then, we have to give him a few minutes to leave. It we see Santa, we destroy the magic, and he won’t come back.”
Pearl Harbor was bombed seventy-six years ago today. My mom, Lillian Koroschetz, started a brand new diary on New Year's Eve, 1941 reflecting back on the previous year and the effects the barely three-week-old war was already having on the every-day lives of Americans.
Two Chicago shootings within 16 hours of each other: a man was shot dead in East Garfield Park this past Friday afternoon. Saturday morning, another man was seriously injured: shot in the knee and stomach. The 2nd man isn't dead, but his injuries will surely compromise his quality of life as long as he lives.
Like so many Americans on Thanksgiving Day, I am grateful for a loving family and the ability to take for granted the basics of food, clothing and shelter; for having a warm bed to sleep in; for living without fear. But on this day of “giving thanks” I’m also grateful for possessing something tangible that few people in the world have now or have ever had or ever will have, especially not this generation.
In honor of Veterans Day I posted yesterday an essay about my uncle Frank Ebner Gartz, a World War II navigator. Today I'd like to post about a tribute to a family member who lost his life in World War I.