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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Paris, Illinois–Troops and Lottery Tickets

Paris, Illinois has been all over the news in Chicago the last couple days. Their soldiers are coming home and the town is preparing to welcome them home. Paris is home to 1544 Transportation Unit of the National Guard.

Basically today the town is shutting down to line the two main streets with people and signs. Buses will drive through with the soldiers so they can see how much they are loved, missed, honored by their home town. Even the schools are shutting down for the afternoon.

In a town like Paris, military is what you do. Do I have any friends in the Military? Nope. Nobody I know is serving… wait. That kid who hid my glasses in the dogfood at Peg’s party is serving, but I haven’t talked to him in ten years. Wait. So is Jerad, he was an RA of mine in Colorado. He’s stationed in Alaska, so he is safe too.

But in a rural, industrial community in central Illinois? You join the military. It will, after all, pay for college. And how will you be at risk if you are in a transportation unit? High risk, it turns out.

My memories of Paris are blurry. Mainly because I was driving through as fast as the lights would let me, trying to get home from college or get back to college. When we were kids, Paris was where we went for lottery tickets. I remember standing in front of a wall of tapes at Wal Mart in Paris. We were allowed to choose one tape and had to choose carefully. What music would make us cool? Keep us up to date?

Weird Al. Definitely we need Weird Al.

That is my Paris, Illinois. But to the kids coming home today, it is their hometown. Welcome home.

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