09 April, 2011

Chicago's Own Stasi Memorial

So, this afternoon I was heading down to Hyde Park on my bike, making a delivery, enjoying the bucolic delights of the lakefront trail, when a fellow caught my eye and flagged me down. He was standing at what a quick Google search identifies as the "Gold Star Families Memorial" at 1420 S Museum Campus Drive. (That's right, things along the lakefront trail actually have street addresses!) The fellow was in his fifties, wearing a windbreaker, salt-and-ginger mustache, and he had a thick German accent. He asked me, "What is this memorial for?"

I'd never really looked closely at the stainless steel eye-sore he was pointing to, but I took it in immediately and explained, "Oh, that's the memorial for police officers who've died in the line of duty."

"Ja, ja, ach so ..." He nodded and pulled at his mustache, "And — where is the memorial for Fred Hampton?"

Well, now, wasn't this embarrassing. Last I heard, there wasn't even a plaque on the front of 2337 West Monroe Street. "I -uh- don't think there is one."

"Well, in my town there is a memorial to all the fellows who were killed trying to cross the wall ..."


"Ja, but we don't have any markers for the Stasi who killed them."

"Is that a fact?" I asked.

His smile was full of mischief, "Ja."

Didn't have the heart to point out to the fellow that from where we were standing, he could see the Balbo Monument, Mussolini's gift to the city.

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