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Pearl Harbor’s impact is still felt 75 years later

  • Written by Joe Boyle

In many ways, it was just a typical December day in the Chicago area. My dad, Frank Boyle, told me that he was lying on the floor with a pillow positioned behind his head. He was listening to a radio broadcast of an encounter between the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Cardinals.

But at about 1:30 p.m., the game was interrupted by a bulletin. Reports had confirmed that the U.S naval fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii was hit with a surprise attack by the Japanese.

My father listened intently to the reports that did not have all the details as of yet. The football game later resumed and my dad knew exactly what he was going to be doing very soon -- he was going to war.

My father was right. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared war on Japan the following day. Roosevelt told Congress the next afternoon that Dec, 7, 1941 is “a date which will live in infamy.”

This nation has been shaken by surprise attacks, random acts of violence, and numerous natural disasters. Shootings at grade schools, high schools, colleges and universities have become too common the past 16 years.

So, to a degree, it is understandable that many younger Americans are unaware of the impact the invasion of Pearl Harbor had on our country. On one hand, the day was no different than any other at this time of the year. The temperatures were in the mid-20s and reached an afternoon high of 38 on Dec. 7, 1941. The temperatures reached a morning low of 31 and a high of 38 degrees on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor this year.

But when my father and millions of other Americans heard the radio bulletin about the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, everything changed. My father was typical of that generation. He couldn’t wait to sign up to defend his country. But he still had to finish high school. Many other American teens did not wait, dropping out of school and signing up.

I imagine many of them felt the U.S. would defeat Japan quickly while bringing down Hitler as well. It was a different time. When the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center fell to the ground in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, the nation and the world was stunned. Many of us saw it live on TV. Terrorists took over two planes and intentionally crashed them into the structures. We were also aware of the tragedies near Shanksville, Pa. and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. by the end of that morning, also the work of terrorists taking over planes. In all, 2,977 people were killed.

No one had televisions in 1941. My father could not have turned on a TV to watch wall-to-wall cable news shows for updates. Many people who lived in my dad’s Englewood neighborhood in Chicago had to wait until the evening editions of daily newspapers for further news on the invasion.

They had no Twitter or Facebook. The attack on Pearl Harbor took place at about 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time. My father and millions of other Americans found out about this attack later on.

But this much we do know about Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona was completely destroyed and the Oklahoma was capsized. More than 2,400 people were killed and over 1,000 more were injured. The attack lasted just under two hours. Twenty American ships were damaged. Most of those fatalities and injuries were from the USS Arizona.

Dec. 7, 2016 was the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. While we have dealt with more tragedies in this new century in the U.S. and throughout the world, the Pearl Harbor attack is still shocking. This was the first time this young, vibrant nation, which was just shaking off the effects of the Great Depression, was attacked. Hawaii was an American territory at the time. Americans now had legitimate fears that the mainland could be next.

My father told me several stories about his time spent in World War II. He joined the Marine Corps and served in Okinawa, an island 350 miles south of mainland Japan. He did not elaborate much about his time being a gunner for the Marine Corps. Someone once asked him if he ever killed anyone. He was quiet for a moment and the said he did not know because he was far away.

With the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor invasion, memories of my father are still with me. The numbers of Americans who can recall that day are dwindling. But as a nation, we can’t forget. The lessons of Pearl Harbor are that freedom cannot be taken for granted.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Speaker encourages women to overcome abuse and despair

  • Written by Claudia Parker

Claudia-NEW

Constance (Connie) Hurtado, of Romeoville, has survived domestic abuse, cancer and the death of her 2-day-old, first-born daughter, Yasmine. Managing pain produced by that level of trauma usually requires a written prescription from a licensed medical professional, but the antidote that’s been placed into Connie’s palm isn’t a pill, it’s a microphone.  

I was at a business writing conference at the Hilton in Oak Lawn when I first learned about Connie. The SkillPath facilitator, Dr. Mike Searcy, and I found ourselves swallowed by an empty conference room with a shared concept for brown-bagging our lunch. The other conference participants had chosen to go elsewhere.

An awkward silence fell as he and I began to compete for the opportunity to share our ideas and thoughts on life. During that exchange, he played a brief video clip of his mentor, Connie, speaking during a rotary club meeting. Just watching the first few minutes was enough to reel me in.

“Can you get me her information? I want the details of this story,” I said.

Connie led me back to when she was a 21-year-old self-proclaimed hothead that rebelled against the rules of her family household. “I got kicked out of the house so I moved in with a boyfriend,” said Connie. “He was taking care of me. Things started off so well. He was so kind and helpful.”

Within six months, things took a turn for the worst.

“I was a waitress; I needed to be friendly with everyone to make tips,” explained Connie. “He felt threatened and started being very insecure. That’s when the abuse began. The first time he attacked me it felt like it went on for a lifetime. I had neighbors, I screamed for help. Either they didn’t hear me or they didn’t care because nobody came.”

To her own admission, Connie didn’t confide in her family because she had too much pride.

“I was ashamed to let them know they were right about my poor choices.” It took a village of friends and co-workers to help her breakaway from her abuser, she said.

A couple of years later, now in a new relationship, Connie said she received the shock of her life during a routine appointment with her gynecologist.

“They told me I had cervical cancer.” She elaborated. “I had to have surgery to remove a portion of my cervix. I was told it wouldn’t reduce my chances of conceiving, but it could affect my ability to carry a baby to term.”

One year post surgery, Connie and her boyfriend anticipated the arrival of their baby girl, Yasmine. She was born three months premature and suffered severe medical complications.

Connie recalled the two days Yasmine lived. “I gave her a bath, her first feeding and cradled her in my arms until she breathed her last breath.”

She said she was bitter for a long time.

“I wasn’t advised to fight for my daughter. I didn’t know what to do, I was young. The doctor and the counselor told me she wouldn’t live or if she did, she’d have a poor quality of life. They pressured me hard to let her go.”

The pain of losing Yasmine put a strain on Connie’s relationship and shortly thereafter she found herself single again, but it wasn’t for long. She met Jesus Hurtado in 2007 and they married in 2011. Jesus and Connie have since given birth to three healthy children. Junior is 9, Jasmine is 5, and Vanessa is 3 years old.

“I married an amazing man,” Connie said. “Jesus adores me and the kids. He makes me feel treasured.”        

Connie said she’s found great liberation and freedom in sharing her story.

“The first time I shared I'd experienced domestic abuse, I was just offering a shoulder to a friend. I could sense she was having problems with her boyfriend. She didn’t want to tell me what was going on until I began to tell her what had happened to me. Once she knew I could relate, she began to trust me. After that, I knew I had to share my story with the world. Even if it only means saving a couple of people, it’s worth everything.”

Connie completed the John C. Maxwell leadership training program in August and is now booking speaking engagements in various places around the Chicago area.

“I want people to know that everyone suffers feelings of defeatism in life, but it doesn’t mean you have to live defeated. You can choose the kind of life you want. All that’s needed is a little bit of guidance and self-understanding. Right now can be a new beginning to the life you want. Where you are now is not where you have to end. You can take you where you want to go.”

To learn more about Connie, visit www.voicesliberated.com.

The National Domestic Abuse hotline is (800) 799- 7233. The advocates are available 24/7 in over 170 languages.

For those seeking assistance handling the loss of a child, the Advocate Family Care Network may be a valuable resource. Visit http://www.advocatechildrenshospital.com/familycarenetwork.

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author and runner whose columns appear in The Reporter.

Continuing to give after Thanksgiving

  • Written by Joe Boyle

The advancement of social media has created changes in our society in how we think and even what we celebrate. I have become aware this fall of the emergence of #GivingTuesday. When I opened up my email this past Tuesday morning, I saw at least 10 references to this particular charitable cause.

But I have a confession to make. Until last month, I had never heard of #GivingTuesday. Park Lawn, a great organization based in Oak Lawn that works to assist mentally and physically impaired individuals, sent us some releases a month ago about #GivingTuesday.

It was not long after that other organizations and schools sent us information of how to donate for various causes they are involved in relating to #GivingTuesday. My initial response after seeing #GivingTuesday was to edit it. I was thinking there must be some typos in there somewhere.

Several of the releases did mention that this day arrives the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. When I learned that #GivingTuesday was in its fifth year, I did not feel so bad. But I never recall hearing about this before. It just seems to have become more popular this fall.

From what I have learned is that #GivingTuesday was created in 2012 at the Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y, a cultural center in New York City. They have been in existence since 1874. The idea behind the organization is to bring people together around the values of service and giving back.

That is where the idea of #GivingTuesday comes from. The Belfer Center and other organizations want to connect diverse groups of individuals, communities and organizations around the world for one purpose – to celebrate and encourage giving. These organizers offered their expertise and launched the idea of #GivingTuesday.

Social media has helped spread the word that apparently has escalated this year. The Belfer Center has referred to this day of charity as a movement. Along with Park Lawn, the staff and students at Mount Carmel High School have become active in #GivingTuesday. While reading about the origin of this day and the expanding resources, my advice is to contact local organizations, such as Park Lawn. This way, you know that donations will help them out.

From what I have read, individuals can donate time and/or funding to assist certain institutions. Businesses and organizations are asked to join in to help. In that regard, I’m all for #Giving Tuesday. How can anyone oppose giving back and philanthropy?

I guess some of us get a little weary when we see these new references. It is difficult enough just to keep up with technology. Now you need a guide book to see what days are set aside for various causes. My initial reaction was to think about people who complain that Thanksgiving is getting squeezed between Halloween and Christmas.

Now you have #GivingTuesday. We have already talked earlier about “Black Friday,” which is the day after Thanksgiving in which millions of Americans go to shopping malls looking for deals.

I recall being in college and coming home for Thanksgiving break and going out on Wednesday night, the day before the holiday. The bars were crowded as college kids come home meeting friends from their neighborhoods or from school. Sometimes it was a combination of both. After a couple of years of going out on these nights I realized that everyone seemed to be out.

Well, I guess in my age group at the time many people were out. Kids that were going away to college were off and mostly everyone else was, too. Now I turn on the TV and I see this day is referred to as “Black Wednesday.” Without any further explanation, I knew it was in reference to bars and restaurant owners whose cash registers are ringing on this day and night.

When I was in college, there was no reference to Black Wednesday. But I’m all for encouraging consumers to shop at small businesses during this period. Small Business Day is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I like the idea of reminding shoppers to visit small businesses in cities, towns and suburbs across the U.S. The giant retailers don’t always need our help. Small businesses need us and we need them.

And we also have Cyber Monday, which is not been in existence that long. The idea behind this day is to get on your computer or phones and put in your orders for holiday gifts. Since I have not taken part in this phenomenon, I assume there are plenty of deals out there. But I kind of find this day kind of amusing. I mean aren’t people supposed to be working on Monday?

Maybe that’s why #GivingTuesday, which is the following day, was created. Maybe we need to be reminded the holiday season is about more than just sales.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Thanksgiving Day has arrived but many of us wonder what there is to be thankful for.

This past year has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Raging storms resulted in more flooding of Midwestern towns. Tornadoes created chaos with many reported injuries and deaths in certain parts of the country.

We have a new president in Donald Trump, who has the major task of trying to unite a country that is a house divided. The major highlight, of course, is the Chicago Cubs, who shattered that 108-year-old drought.

Despite the turmoil and celebrations that occur during a full year, Thanksgiving Day is a constant. This day should be a reprieve from all the noise outside. I can understand that some people don’t feel like celebrating. This new century has been difficult for many Americans. Many of them have lost their jobs at one point. They may have found work since but the majority of them have had to take a pay cut. Another group of Americans have not found full-time work since the Great Recession, settling for working a couple of part-time jobs to try and make ends meet.

No wonder a lot of us feel lost and frustrated today. Many of those manufacturing jobs that were so prevalent in the U.S. have since evaporated.

But for one day, at least, we should set aside those concerns. Thanksgiving Day is a time for a celebration. Perhaps we often don’t think about it that way. The holiday is now in the middle of the ever expanding influence of Halloween and the Christmas shopping season. For some people, that begins tonight. I suggest take a breather from the holiday rush. You have plenty of time to shop, especially if you are off on Friday.

Thanksgiving Day should be an oasis from all those shopping expectations. I guess that’s what I like about Thanksgiving. It does not come with great expectations. It does not come with bags of candy or with bows and presents. But it does come with a hearty meal that includes the turkey and all the trimmings. The meal is capped off with a pumpkin pie and perhaps an apple pie. Those desserts would go well with a cup of coffee or even some wine.

To be honest, I can’t recall many specific Thanksgivings that stand out. One Thanksgiving was more significant than the rest. In a previous column I wrote, I mentioned that my free-spirited Uncle Jack arrived with his family on one memorable Thanksgiving in the 1960s. He also brought his pet monkey, Rosie. The monkey later escaped and ran down the street. Uncle Jack and the rest of us ran after Rosie. This little spider monkey was retrieved before going up a tree. That must have been a sight for our neighbors.

With memories like that, Thanksgiving Day is unique. As I grow older, Thanksgiving Days become more special to me. This is the first time in many years that our family will not be hosting Thanksgiving. Initially when we began holding the event, coordinating the meal and preparing the turkey resulted in some difficulties. The greatest task is coordinating everything together so the turkey is done and the side dishes are ready after the guests arrive. Like everything in life, preparing of the holiday feast improves through repetition. In our case, it was more like trial and error.

The advantages of serving the meal are that you are at home in your own surroundings. While it is a lot of work, you have the day planned out. The Macy’s Day Parade is on TV and can be heard in the background as we prepare the turkey. Setting the table and later preparing those side dishes comes later.

The guests arrive and it is time to give thanks. And after the meal, the pies and the coffee, the night is set aside for conversation. Those conversations often include lots of laughter. This is sometimes the best part of Thanksgiving. After all the preparation, the time to relax and enjoy the company of others is precious. It’s what Thanksgiving is all about.

Despite what is going on in the world, Thanksgiving Day doesn’t change. This is still a day in which family and friends can come together to dine in what is a great American tradition. And the day should not be taken for granted. I still recall Thanksgiving Days with my mother, father and my Uncle Jack. They are no longer here but those memories of them fill up my Thanksgivings.

This Thanksgiving Day I remember them all. Today I will enjoy the meal and the company that surrounds it. And I might have another piece of apple pie.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Being thankful at Thanksgiving for healing and restoration

  • Written by Claudia Parker

khalilah turner photo 11-24

Submitted photo

Claudia Parker hugs Steve LeClercq during the opening of the TD Jakes show, which aired last week.

 

 

It was one week ago today that I made my television debut on the TD Jakes show, which airs nationally on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), and locally on WCIU, The U, and it’s Subchannel WCUU, The U Too.

Unlike my past appearances on television talk shows where there’s been a brief glimpse of me smiling from the audience, this time I was an invited guest of the show. Contrary to my bubbly persona, I spent most of the interview in tears. Amazing Reunion Stories was the show topic. Most reunions are exciting right? Not if it’s with a family member of someone responsible for taking the life of your baby sister.

It wasn’t exciting at all - more like terrifying!

It was June 7, 1979 that my 2-year-old sister, Khalilah C. Turner, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver. It’s been 37 years since her tragic death. This past Sunday would’ve been her 40th birthday. In a divine twist of fate, God saw fit that she receive an unconventional gift -- a headstone purchased by Steven LeClercq, the adult son of the driver responsible for her death! He recently passed away, which is what prompted Steven’s curiosity.

“My dad spoke very little of the accident to me and my siblings. My mother even had very little information,” said Steven. “I was nosing through old stories I’d heard and this particular one had the least amount of details. After piecing together several parts of a tattered story, I felt it was my responsibility to visit Khalilah’s grave to show respect, grieve and offer condolences.”

Steven said he didn’t expect to find a grave without a headstone. It doesn’t even have a marker--- only grass.

“Upon discovering Khalilah’s whereabouts, it was very saddening to find that she had an unmarked grave,” expressed Steven. He took that information back to his family and together they decided to do something. “If my father had known this before his death, he would’ve headed this task himself.”

Steven said although his father spoke little of the accident, he knew he carried a burden of guilt. His dad apparently lived in the vicinity of where it all happened. He said, “I heard my dad moved, sold that car shortly after and avoided driving near that road.”

Over the last two months Steven and I have become pen pals on Facebook, answering each other’s queries in private messages. I learned he knew far more about me than I knew about him. He said, “I read your book, “Becoming a Mother While Losing My Own” twice! The first read through was a quick skim looking to see if any useful information was listed in discovering if you were who I thought you were. After realizing that you were the correct person, I became intrigued to read you and your mother’s story leading up to the accident and the events afterwards. I have even recommended it to a couple more family members.”

Since he knew my entire life story, I wanted to level the playing field. “What kind of man was your dad,” I asked?

“He was fairly calm and a wonderful goofball. He adopted me and my brother, all together there are seven of us. He loved my mother unconditionally, during his last days he only wanted her to be taken care of. As we all want to do a better job than our parents, I'm going to have to reach pretty high. I truly admired him as a father.”

I found solace in hearing Steven say his father had lived a life he aspired to live up to. I didn’t know how to react when he walked out to greet me on the T.D. Jakes show. Just as unusual as it was for him to purchase my sister a headstone, I suppose I responded in-kind. When he walked out, I greeted him with a smiling face, arms wide open and gave him a full embrace. We squeezed one another tightly, putting each other at ease before entering the discussion where we held opposing views of the accounts of the accident. Yet, somehow we were able to recognize that we were not opponents, and therefore relinquished any desire to be right and decided to just listen to each other’s truth as we believed it to be.  

TD Jakes, whom I’ve always known as Bishop Jakes, is an African-American pastor, author and filmmaker. He is the bishop of The Potter's House, a non-denominational American megachurch. He’s considered by many, as one of the most influential African American leaders in the United States. I knew he’d be the most equipped to handle mediation between Steven and I when I wrote into his new talk show. There was a swift response as, Keisean Marshall, one of the show’s producers, contacted me within three days of my submission. “This story is very inspiring,” he said. “I’m going to fight to make sure you guys come on.” Keisean is a man of his word. I boarded a plane for Los Angeles last Tuesday afternoon, we taped the show on Wednesday and it aired on Thursday, Nov.17.

Only three days before what would’ve been Khalilah’s 40th birthday.

Since the show aired, both Steven and I have been flooded with positive praise for the acceptance and compassion we treated one another with. I believe Bishop Jakes initiated that response with his on air approval when he said, “We all go through the same things in different ways, pain doesn’t care if you’re a man, woman, white, black, rich or poor, it attacks everybody the same. If we could learn from these two people how to reach out of our pain and see one other’s perspective and love anyway -- it would make you want to get up out of bed whistling.”  

Wow! What a high compliment from the Bishop. I was elated to have earned his approval. “I think we’ve done something to make both of our parents proud today,” I told Steven after the show.

     On behalf of my mother, Rhonda Y. Turner, and siblings, Theresa, Nadia, Angel and Andrew, we would like to thank the LeClercq family for acknowledging Khalilah C. Turner. Through our story, we can show the world how to let LOVE win!

     To view our Amazing Reunion Stories, T.D. Jakes episode visit: 1047 - Claudia Is Here To Meet The Son Of The Hit & Run Driver That Killed Her Sister (Part 1).

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author and runner whose columns appear in The Reporter the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.