PSC teacher planning veterans parade in Chicago
By Casey Toner email@example.com December 12, 2012 9:42PM
Chris DePhillip, an English composition teacher at Prairie State College, is helping organize the Chicago Welcomes Home the Heroes Parade. He is pictured at the Student Veterans Center at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights Tuesday, December 4, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 14, 2013 6:10AM
Cristopher De Phillips is taking a break from his job teaching English composition at Prairie State College this semester for a good reason.
The 35-year-old Chicago resident is the co-organizer of a parade that may draw hundreds of thousands of people to Chicago to celebrate returning Iraq War veterans and the troops still fighting in Afghanistan.
The weekend events will begin on a somber note at 9:11 a.m. Friday outside the Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St. Family members of those who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq will read the names of the fallen during an 11-hour ceremony.
The parade starts at noon Saturday and will go down Columbus Drive between Balbo Drive and Monroe Street. Each branch of the military will have a float in the parade.
After the parade, there will be a veterans resources reception from 2:30 to 6 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 East Washington Street. All veterans are invited to learn more about programs and benefits offered to them.
De Phillips said the total cost of the parade is more than $25,000. Although most of that amount has been raised, organizers are still looking for donations to “close the budget gap.”
He doesn’t know how many people will show up, but the 1986 Chicago parade for Vietnam veterans attracted more than 200,000 veterans and 500,000 onlookers.
About 100,000 people showed up for an Iraq War vets parade in January in St. Louis.
De Phillips, a University of Chicago graduate, credits his friends at Prairie State College’s Student Veterans Center with helping organize the events.
“We have a social contract,” De Phillips said of military personnel. “If they go and fight, it’s our obligation to welcome them home.”
For more information, visit www.chicagowelcomeshometheheroes.org/.