30 November 2008
1 December 2008 marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most horrific events in recent US history, the deadly fire at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic grade school in Chicago, IL.
This event took place a couple years before I was born. My parents lived in Chicago at the time, my mother pregnant with my older sister, and a nurse at a nearby hospital. My father also worked at a hospital, St. Anne's, where many victims were taken. Our Lady of the Angels was my parents own parish, where they went to church each Sunday. My mother remembers having to work a 3-11 shift that day. She remembers riding the bus to work and hearing the sirens wailing outside. She remembers the unspeakable tragedies that befell the school and overtook the whole city. She remembers the terrible pictures printed in the newspaper, particularly one of a burnt staircase with one small tennis shoe on one of the steps. She has not forgotten and she mourns to this day, as do I.
This fire claimed the lives of 92 children, aged 8-15, and 3 nuns. There is a very informative website dedicated to honoring the victims of the fire. I encourage everyone to please visit Our Lady of the Angels Fire Memorial and read about this terrible event as a way to remember these children, their teachers, and the brave people who tried to save them.