I cannot stand down, stay silent, in response to the recent letter from a Forest Park resident in the Forest Park Review related to the funeral procession and ensuing cremation of Officer Andres Mauricio Vasquez Lasso, yet another hero taken from us too soon. Yes, traffic was a challenge; however, what challenges do first responders face each day? I would guess many, and I speak from personal experience. The slight inconvenience for me was nothing compared to what Officer Vasquez-Lasso’s family and fellow officers are experiencing as a result of his selfless service. 

I am a retired veteran of the 1st Gulf War, U.S. Navy Corpsman, and have multiple challenges related to my service, but I would not trade those injuries and medical conditions for anything, as I swore to protect and defend all of those who reside in the United States of America, and the greater world.

I do honor and protect the right to free speech and respect the fact that we can and should agree to disagree, so, yes, I respect what the letter stated, yet disagree. I am now a DNP and a professor at a major university in the city of Chicago and many of those I serve live nearby to Forest Park, so I too experienced the “traffic delay” as I was making my way back from clinical sites in Cicero and Brookfield. 

My family has resided in Forest Park for over 90 years. I am also a resident. Historically, it was a conscious decision when my grandparents died, that I and my wife would move into a very special house, in a very special village that, typically in my experience, has been kind, patient, and respectful.

I happened to know what was going on, but had I not, I would have tuned into a radio station or used Bluetooth on my smart device to alert me to traffic and why there was traffic. Many of these applications also suggest alternate routes.

I was actually one of those who stood, respectfully, in the cold wind, near the corner of Desplaines and Cermak along with the ladder trucks from Berwyn and North Riverside, as they crossed ladders and hoisted the American flag, on a street lined with multiple paramedic/EMT rigs, police vehicles from Forest Park, Oak Park, River Forest, and Berwyn as well as other sister communities, while the CPD mounted patrol stood patiently with their trusty steeds, waiting on a cold and windy day, as the procession arrived. Two mounted patrol officers on dark steeds met the hearse and honors — well deserved yet sadly rendered. The entire route, through our sister neighborhoods were lined with people paying their respect and blue ribbons were tied on most, if not all trees. 

Thank you to all who stood up, stood out in the cold, those who respectfully tolerated the slight inconvenience of a few traffic snarls. Thank you to Public Works from North Riverside, Forest Park, and others who closed off streets to allow the procession while keeping the public safe (Public Works rarely get the credit they deserve). Thank you to all of the many CPD Officers who came out, as well as the State Fire Marshall to escort Officer Vasquez-Lasso and his family while keeping the public safe. Yet as we say in the Navy (SEALS) “the only easy day was yesterday.”

I respect the opinion of others, but in this case, it was no great inconvenience to honor an individual who gave his all for all of us.

Tanya “Doc” Friese
Forest Park