Today is Casimir Pulaski Day. Pulaski Day is celebrated the first Monday of every March in Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois. I mean “celebrated” as in Pulaski Day is an official government holiday, but Illinois is the only state in the country where it’s an official holiday. In Chicago, it’s technically also an official holiday. However, it’s not a parking meter holiday, so be sure to feed those meters! That also means I can’t go to the Chicago Public Library today because it’s closed today. Chicago Public Schools and the Cook County offices are also closed today. The United States Post Office just delivered my mail, so it’s not a federal holiday. Pulaski is a very important holiday in Chicago because of our large Polish population. In fact, Chicago is the second largest Polish city after Warsaw.
So who was Casimir Pulaski? He was a cavalry officer who fought for the U.S. Military during the American Revolution. President Barak Obama, a Chicagoan, signed a resolution that made Pulaski a U.S. citizen last November, 230 years after his death. If you know any Chicagoans, you know that U.S. citizenship is topic that is near and dear to their hearts. Hopefully, President Obama will help resolve the problems of living immigrants next!
Oftentimes, I will meet one of my present or former Spanish students unexpectedly. I’m always happy to see them again, but I usually meet them long after I’ve forgotten their names. Once I was at the McDonald’s Playland near Midway Airport with my twin sons when they were about four years old and one of my former students greeted me with a loud and friendly, ¡Hola! I was happy to see her again, but this time she was with her young son and she was happy with her life.
Once while I was on duty as a police officer working in a patrol car, I was assigned to park my squad car with the blue lights flashing so other cars wouldn’t crash into a car that had crashed into the Cook County / City Hall building downtown. This must have been a slow news day because all kinds of cameramen came by to film the car that had crashed into the building while I just sat there in my squad car watching everyone come and go.
Then, I noticed that one cameraman was looking at me as he walked past. I couldn’t help but notice him, too. Then, we both recognized each other! He was in my Spanish class at UIC! He also recognized me. We kind of looked at each other with a look that could only mean, “This is what you do for a living?” I never imagined him as a cameraman. And he definitely never imagined me as a police officer.
Another time I was downtown where an employee of Dunkin Donuts was a theft victim. As I walked into Dunkin Donuts, one of my students saw me. We greeted each other and that was about it. However, I realized afterwards that he saw me in full police uniform walking into a Dunkin Donuts. How cliche! I was actually responding to a radio assignment, but I appeared to be acting like a typical cliché police officer going for coffee and donuts.
Last Saturday, as I was leaving the Burger King in Mount Greenwood with my twins, I saw a former Spanish student in the parking lot. We said hello to each other and then I noticed that he was with Mark Pera who is running for Congress so they gave me a flyer and asked me to vote for him. I responded that I would think about it. When I got home, just by chance, Mark Pera’s campaign office called me and asked me to vote for him. I told the caller that I had just seen him, but she didn’t believe me.