Reflections on the 4th on 53rd

Tom Pavlec watched the parade from 55th and Cornell (Photo by Spencer Bibbs)

Staff writer

I got a B- in both quarters of the Greco-Roman classics series I had to take to fulfill a freshman-year humanities requirement, but one thing has stuck with me from the courses: the end of Book VII of the Aeneid, when all the Latin warriors are listed, which springs to mind every time I go to a parade.

Turnus may not have watched Camilla swing her javelin in the Hyde Park Bank Building’s parking lot last Thursday, but the effect of Vergil’s swirling, cosmic verse was brought to life, at least to me, by all the groups who were there. Here were boys and girls practicing martial arts; grown men dressed inexplicably as Batman and Robin marching with supporters of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) presidential campaign; the politicians I cover either wearing campaign apparel or pseudo-Revolutionary War-inspired garb; Medieval times reenactors, carrying Chicago’s flag, two or three wearing the stripes and stars over their chain mail.

And I, carrying a vertical banner for the Hyde Park Herald. It felt a little like I was marching with a Medieval guild.

Off we went, departing from the sunbaked blacktop, pausing at intersections for the taekwondo practitioners for break boards with their fists, feet or elbows. When wearing my journalist’s hat, I’m not particularly desirous to be in the center of attention; I was very pleased to have much more interesting marchers before and after me.

I was furthermore pleased to have two observations as I made my way through East Hyde Park to Nichols Park, however. For all the time I spend covering this community nine storeys up in this newspaper’s offices, it’s nice to see the community out en masse, from parade participants to spectators. It makes me remember who I am working for.

And, as I was reminded by the announcer’s passing acknowledgement of me at the end of the parade, it is nice to know that I and everyone here at the Herald are present in this community for this community. I wrote in my end-of-2018 wrap-up six months ago that anybody in the newspaper business these days is in it because they want to be in it; I am delighted that my first job in journalism is to report on this most-interesting neighborhood in this city of cities.

And, in this day and age, I am glad that my job is to report on these truths in the course of our human events — especially on the Fourth of July.