Happy birthday, U.S.A. - and Walter Czysczon!
May today be very special for all of us and, especially, for Walter Czysczon, a World War II veteran who turns 95 on this Fourth of July.
It's guaranteed Walter will be surprised to learn that news of his special day is in the paper today. Like many of the quiet heroes we have in our midst, the unassuming Fox Valley Purple Heart recipient doesn't seek the limelight.
His own family had to push and prod to learn much about his World War II service or how he was wounded in Germany during the western Europe campaign. The U.S. Army 39th Infantry, Company E, rifleman felt the credit belonged to others.
"He always said he did nothing, that there were many who did much more," said son Ken Cyzen of Algonquin, who was a young boy when his father was drafted. "He figures the people who were the heroes were the ones who died."
But Ken and his wife, Gina, and Walter's extended family think the world should know about this special man who risked his life with countless others and, like most war veterans, carries difficult memories from those days in battle.
"We're proud of him and we want him to know that," said Gina, who will gather with family for a special Fourth of July celebration today in Walter's honor.
"He's our reluctant hero," Ken said. But no less a hero for that reluctance.
Happy birthday, Walter! And thank you.
If your home suffered hail damage in one of our recent storms - and wasn't that a doozy on Wednesday? - acting Algonquin Police Chief Ed Urban warns you to consult with your insurance company before signing on with a contractor. Police have been fielding many complaints about door-to-door contractors asking for money up front. Having been through hail damage, I can echo his concern. You can choose your contractor but your insurance would handle those payments, other than your deductible.
Best freedom ever
With Stars and Stripes flying, sparklers sizzling and rockets booming across the northern Fox Valley, we'll all celebrate a special birthday with a big bang today. As you celebrate in the way you wish - and isn't that a great freedom to have? - could you take a moment to mark your calendars? Oct. 7 is the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 4 presidential election. No matter who you pick, it won't matter if you can't vote. And you can't vote if you aren't registered. Or if you've moved and haven't re-registered since the last time you voted. You'll need to be a U.S. citizen, 18 and a resident of your precinct for at least 30 days before Election Day. Any questions, call your county clerk. It's (630) 232-5990 in Kane and (815) 334-4242 in McHenry County.
Got a pint?
Margie Ward of Algonquin wonders if you'll also mark your calendars to donate blood on July 24, when the village of Algonquin and Elgin Academy team up for a blood drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Algonquin Public Works Building, 110 Meyer Road. Call Margie at (847) 854-4872 or e-mail her at email@example.com to sign up for a slot. As she notes, it's a great way to give back and help others - each donation can save up to three lives. It won't take long and you get juice and cookies. What's not to like?!
It's time to celebrate! You'll find fireworks celebrations in Elgin, Huntley, Sleepy Hollow and Woodsock tonight. You can enjoy them Saturday night at the Crystal Lake Gala Days. Remember, the Gala festival has moved to a new location, Lippold Park, this year. You'll find it by going north to Route 176 between Route 47 and Route 31.
Today is a full day of low-key fun in Sleepy Hollow topped by tonight's fireworks display at Sabatino Park. Gates open at 7 p.m. and the fireworks are at dusk. Take Route 72 to Sleepy Hollow Road and go south to the village hall.
It's also a full day in Elgin, starting with the parade at 9 a.m. and fireworks at dusk. You'll find details on all the fireworks in today's Timeout! section.
I asked you readers for help for those doggies not so keen on the Fourth of July. It sounds like pet owners might have to just find a basement and turn up the tunes if your pup gets freaked by the booms. Or get in the car and go for a ride. Tire your dog out before the show starts and turn up the TV or radio to distract. Definitely turn on the air conditioner to muffle the noise. Act as if there's nothing to be frightened of and distract the dog with a toy or special treat to chew on.
At least one of you suggests tossing those blowing up illegal fireworks into the river, but this is a nonviolent column so I'd never suggest that. Not that it hasn't crossed my mind!
Hey, go forth and enjoy. And, if you see Walter, wish him a happy 95th!