Tuesday, July 28, 2020

July 28, 1975 -- Navy Pier Hosts American Freedom Train

July 28, 1975 – The American Freedom Train begins the first of seven days at Navy Pier as Mayor Richard J. Daley, along with several thousand inner city children, are among the first visitors to view the twelve cars that provide a walk through 200 years of the country’s history.  After a ride on the moving walkway through the train, Daley calls it “impressive and convincing,” adding that “It restores confidence in our country.”  [Chicago Tribune, July 29, 1975].  The 425-ton Reading T-1 locomotive used to pull the train is not at Navy Pier because it is too large to make it around the sharp curves of the tracks leading to the pier.  It is left steaming at Clinton and Kinzie Streets.  The Freedom Train tour, undertaken to commemorate the bicentennial of the United States, began its tour of the 48 contiguous states on April 1, 1975, a tour that ended on December 31, 1976 with ore than seven million Americans visiting the train and millions more watching as it passed their towns.  Its ten display cars carried more than 500 different artifacts, ranging from George Washington’s copy of the Constitution to Judy Garland’s dress from the Wizard of Oz to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s pulpit and robes. 

July 28, 2010 – The jury begins deliberations in the corruption trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blogojevich, sooner than expected and without testimony from a number of witnesses, including Blogojevich himself.  Assistant U. S. Attorney Reid Schar says, “This guy had more training in criminal background than the average lawyer and somehow this guy is the accidentally corrupt governor?” [Christian Science Monitor, July 28, 2010] One of Blagojevich’s attorneys, Sam Adam, Jr., says, “He’s got absolutely horrible judgment on people.  And that’s the case and they want you to find him guilty of these horrible things because of that.”  As they went through their closing arguments the opposing attorneys exhibited different styles with Adam “pacing, sweating and alternately shouting and whispering to the jury” while Schar “did not raise his voice throughout his argument,” which concluded with his saying, “I don’t know how you begin to put a price on the damage defendant Blagojevich has caused.  The time for accountability for the defendants is now.”  On August 17 Blagojevich was convicted of one count of lying to federal agents while a mistrial was declared on the other 23 crimes with which he was charged because the jury could not agree on a verdict.  A retrial was then set to begin on April 20, 2011.  

July 28, 1994 – The United States Department of Veterans Affairs announces that it has chosen 1,000 acres of the former Joliet Army Ammunition plant as the site of what will be the country’s largest national cemetery. The United States Forest Service lays claim to most of the remainder of the 23,500-acre grounds of the former munitions plant as the site of a tall-grass prairie reserve.  U. S. Representative George Sangmeister, who led the effort to restore the property to productive use, says, “The cemetery location was probably the centerpiece or hub or catalyst for putting the whole 23,500 acres together … I would hope that by 1996 … at the latest ’97, there ought to be interments there.”  [Chicago Tribune, July 29, 1994]. It is anticipated that the national cemetery will serve over a million veterans and their spouses and dependents within a 75-mile radius and will be the largest of the 114 cemeteries administered by the VA. The selection appears to put to rest the effort to locate the cemetery at Fort Sheridan on the North Shore as the VA fell about $30 million short of the price that the Army was seeking for the base near Highland Park and Highwood. The Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery was officially dedicated in 1999, the one hundred seventeenth national cemetery, with a capacity of over 400,000 burial spaces. 

July 28, 1970:  The day after a Grant Park riot occurred when a crowd of 35,000 to 50,000 waiting for a concert by Sly and the Family Stone reacted violently as the concert was delayed and ultimately cancelled, Mayor Richard J. Daley orders that all rock concerts planned by the Chicago Park District Board be cancelled.  The mayor calls the fighting “A riot, a brawl, and mob action.”  [Chicago Tribune, July 29, 1970]  He continues, “There were a lot of liquor and wine bottles thrown at the policemen.  I believe the young people who attend these concerts should assume some responsibility for policing themselves.”  At least 162 persons are injured in the turmoil and hundreds of windows are broken all along Michigan Avenue opposite Grant Park as well as on some side streets between Michigan and State Streets.  Damage to police vehicles is estimated at $10,000 with one car destroyed by fire.  As the mayor reacts, three men and two women are arrested near the Grant Park band shell after a report that the performance venue will be set on fire.  Police search the truck belonging to Mike Patrick of Brommel, Pennsylvania and find a five-gallon can of gasoline and one-fourth pound of marijuana, almost never a good combination.

July 28,1864:  The Milwaukee Sentinel publishes a story, most probably apocryphal, about the Chicago River from a “reliable gentleman” who had gone to Chicago some days earlier and reports “A heavy fog rested over the water as they approached that city [Chicago], rendering objects even close at hand indistinguishable.  Under these circumstances the boat came near running past the city entirely, and would have done so but for the fragrance of the Chicago River, which fortunately enabled the Captain to run his craft safely into port. Light-houses dwindle into insignificance beside this all powerful guide to mariners." Whew!” [Chicago Tribune, July 28, 1863]

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