Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Headed down to Springfield

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!


Johnny Yen said...

My college friend Matt lived there, until Copley Wire Service mercifully rehired him to cover the OJ trial. He described in detail how excruciatingly boring the town was-- save for an open stage in which a couple of guys tried to perform The Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray" in all of it's 17 minute glory. There were catcalls, tears and eventually a brawl. It was epic.

Thanks for posting those profiles.

Johnny Yen said...

BTW, Tom, the Commissioner of the Dead Pool, lives in Springfield, covering the state legislature.

Chris said...

I know the strip club you speak of. It was the first strip club I ever went to after joining a fraternity at U of I. I was unimpressed.

Grant Miller said...

I'm sorry you have to go to Springfield.

Beth said...

I bet it's heartbreaking to be part of that memorial. It's heartbreaking that there has to be a memorial.

Tenacious S said...

My son chose the corn dog to display the power of his will. We were at a friend's house and he refused to eat even one bite. I'm telling you, the showdown at OK Corral had nothing on the faceoff that ensued. Looking back on it now, why the hell was I forcing him to eat a corn dog?

Bubs said...

Ten, you were forcing him to eat a corn dog to build his character. I understand that.

Beth, the memorial is pretty somber--it basically follows the format of a police line of duty funeral: the pipes play "Amazing Grace", followed by a rifle salute, followed by "taps." I feel very blessed and honored to be part of a larger community dedicated to being of service to others. I went back to work with a renewed sense of purpose.

Grant, thank you. I felt pretty sorry for myself, too.

Chris, some things never change, huh?

Johnny, I would've given my last beer and all the money in my pocket to witness that this past Wednesday night. That's undoubtedly the coolest thing that's ever happened in Springfield. Not counting anything Splotchy ever did there.