None Of Us Were There For Lincoln In 1865, But I Was For Veterans Day 1945

None of us were there when Lincoln walked the earth…not many of us were there for Veterans Day 1945

….but a few of us here were. And while the great stone monuments to Lincoln and the Civil War still stand stern in our national memory, the little monument I most remember is long gone. Like hundreds of others in our Chicago neighborhoods, it was only an American flag high atop a pole on whose base were printed the names of all the young men on our block who had gone to war. And never returned.

It was set on a little patch of crab grass at the southwest corner of Mayfield & Division streets. I can see it clear to this day! But no one else can! That’s because it aged, rusted, and disintegrated there more than a half century ago. Today kids play there…cigarette buts collect there…gangs meet there… neighbors have no idea or interest there.

This hasn’t been intentional. Simply inevitable. Like time, like change, like forgetting, in other words like being so very human. When I like many of you see Spielberg’s new film ‘Lincoln,’ I expect to be stirred by that great man and that great epoch. I will sit in that audience looking around to see how many of my WWII generation are in there too.

Not many I expect. And so another small chapter in my life will disappear into this much bigger chapter in my nation. But this Veteran’s Day — most every day — I shall remember both.

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