For the love of Rockford....
It’s really hard to put into words why I love Rockford so much. Maybe it’s my inner-hipster realizing something is cool before it becomes mainstream but I honest to God love Rockford, Illinois. I mean really, it’d be pretty difficult to run a page called Rockford Proud and not be fully invested in what I’m writing about.
In my first article, I talked about my transition from being a Rockford loather into a Rockford lover, but I never really delved into what I love about this city (besides Beefaroo. I think it’s pretty clear I love Beefaroo).
Though I can’t sum it up into one specific reason, I can tell you one thing I believe wholeheartedly: Rockford is the home of the unsung hero.
You know who I mean; those that have shaped our world, our culture, our lives and yet get little to no credit for it.
Let me throw some names at you:
Alta Hulett, Samuel S. Montague, Michelle Williams, Joe Mantello, Julia Lathrop, Daniel Hale Williams, Jodi Benson, Albert Spalding, Howard Colman
Now, be honest with me; how many of these names do you recognize and know what they accomplished? (I admit; some are easier than others)
Now, tell me if you recognize the importance of the following:
The first doctor to successfully complete open heart surgery, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, the garage door opener, the writer of the first successfully-enacted anti-sex-discrimination law in the country, Destiny’s Child, the official rules of baseball, the first woman to head a federal bureau in the United States, and the hit musical Wicked
It may just be me, but the significance of the list above is astounding (I purposefully mismatched the people with their accomplishments in hopes you’d click on their names to find out more). It also represents just a tiny sliver of the impact Rockford has had on the world, and for some people above it doesn’t even note their biggest accomplishments.
Thus, I propose a new Rockford slogan: Rockford, the humblest city in America. Because it’s true! It’s taken decades for the Forest City to put up signs saying it’s the home of Cheap Trick (arguably Rockford’s most famous cultural impact besides the sock monkey) and that’s one of the smallest investments a community could make.
Fortunately, others have noticed Rockford’s uncanny humility besides me and have taken it upon themselves to invest in placing historical markers throughout the city. It may go without saying, but I 100% approve of the measure and am proud to see more Rockfordians investing in the community.
I do urge those sign-makers to include the unsung heroes of Rockford’s already-unsung heroes (the quirkiest of the quirk). I want the world to know that not only is the Rockford region home to Cheap Trick and Jane Addams but to Marin Mazzie and Ross Barnes.
Rockford has a history of quietly impacting the world. Now, I think it’s high time we take credit for it.