Another Kind of “Memorial” on Memorial Day 2018

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka the PRDude)

On this Memorial Day 2018, with weather in Chicago much more suited to Independence Day, I struggled for a relevant commentary, for some poignant message to communicate in this space appropriate for this national holiday.

I have experience in this subject.

Is the owner of this cart, photographed along the 2900 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, a veteran? Really, does it matter?

Last year, I wrote about a small monument in the Logan Square neighborhood, a community in the midst of revitalization and change now best defined as gentrification. And, in 2015, the PRDude reported on a memorial to Polish service men from St. Hyacinth parish in Avondale.

One thread between those two posts and this one: Milwaukee Avenue, my favorite street in the world.

Here’s why: Yesterday, I came across the shopping cart noted in the image above on the 2900 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, an arterial thoroughfare that connects Logan Square to Avondale and beyond. I have no idea who controls this rag-tag device, filled with aluminum cans and personal possessions.

Could this be the belongings of a U.S. serviceman?  Or a servicewoman?

Today, I read a news article that reported servicemen and women who get discharged for non-serious offenses are discriminated against when trying to return to the workforce.

That led me to search for some insight on those U.S. veterans who — despite serving their country — have not been able to land meaningful employment, find a place to live and assimilate into civilian life and society.  On the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans site, I learned staggering statistics on the plight of too many veterans today.

That led to this thought: On this day when we honor the men and women who served in our armed forces to let us live in a free land — one facing challenges, but fundamentally free — too many veterans are discarded and compelled to homelessness.

Perhaps some maintain their possessions in a shopping cart along a stretch of some  street in America, like Milwaukee Avenue.

So, on Memorial Day 2018, I offer thoughts of honor to those veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. But I also think we should do more — much more — to honor those veterans searching for the road that leads to the America they fought for.