In a few hours I'll be driving down to Springfield to participate in the 2007 Illinois Police Memorial. The memorial is dedicated to Illinois police officers who have died in the line of duty.
In 2006, eight police officers in Illinois died in the line of duty. The first six officers all died from vehicle-related causes (Chambers and Gibbons were both killed by drunk drivers) and the last two officers, Cook and Wood, were both basically assassinated while sitting in their squad cars.
I encourage you to read a little about each of these individual officers, and please remember that for every Anthony Abbate there are tens of thousands of men and women who would willingly give their lives without hesitation to help another human being.
The links below are from the Officer Down Memorial Page:
Officer James Knapp, Cook County Sheriff's Police
Officer Eric Solorio, Chicago Police Department
Deputy Sheriff Elizabeth Edwards, Hardin County Sheriff's Office
Officer Jeremy Chambers, Cahokia Police Department
Sergeant Rodney Miller, Illinois State Police
Chief Deputy Brian Gibbons, Calhoun County Sheriff's Office
Officer Thomas Cook, Metra Police Department
Officer Thomas Wood, Maywood Police Department
Nationally, about half of all line-of-duty deaths are vehicle related--officers killed in crashes or struck by vehicles.
May 13-19 is National Police Week, and May 15 is Peace Officers Memorial Day. I'll probably talk some more about that in the next week or two.
Springfield is not my favorite place to visit. There are no riverboat casinos (there's no river.) The one strip club is part of an overpriced franchise; it just seems to lack that locally-owned, independently run sincerity. And the food choices in town are limited, at least in my experience. The first time I was there everyone kept telling me to try the famous local dish, the "horseshoe." I did, and was not impressed--the "horseshoe" consisted of a badly-cooked hamburger served open-faced, with a bunch of standard frozen french fried piled on top, and the whole affair was smothered with some type of Velveeta-based cheese sauce.
So look, I believe that every place must have some redeeming feature, some hidden greasy spoon or dive bar that can provide the perfect low-end dining moment, and I resolved not to have another bad dining experience on this trip.
I reached out to prominent Springfield native Splotchy, and he agreed to help me out. I learned that Springfield claims to be birthplace of the corn dog, so with any luck I'll be taking a little bite of deep-fried history later tonight. He also pointed me toward a good barbecue place, so I got choices. Thanks, Splotchy!