Weather Updates

No chickening out in political debates

Chick-fil-A customers make their way back their vehicles after grabbing lunch restaurant near Fox Valley Mall Friday August 3 2012.

Chick-fil-A customers make their way back to their vehicles after grabbing lunch at the restaurant near the Fox Valley Mall on Friday, August 3, 2012. Business was booming at the restaurant despite plans from same-sex couples to stage "kiss-ins" at locations throughout the nation to protest recent comments made by the restaurant's president, Dan Cathy. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media

storyidforme: 34363353
tmspicid: 12678425
fileheaderid: 5806553

Updated: September 6, 2012 6:05AM

The lines weren’t out the door as they had been on Wednesday, when more than 3,000 people showed up at the Chick-fil-A off Route 59 in Aurora to show support for the fast-food chain caught in the cross-fire of our country’s gay marriage debate.

But things were certainly hopping there again on Friday, the day advocates of same-sex marriages were to show up in protest of the quote from Chick-fil-A’s president supporting “the biblical definition of the family unit.”

Like earlier in the week, I found plenty of people willing to talk on Friday. Only, most of them were espousing the same “traditional family values” and “freedom of speech” rights as Wednesday’s crowd. Some, like Susie Corredato, 64, and husband Tom, 60, of Yorkville, had read about those long lines and decided to show their support by eating at Chick-fil-A for the first time. John Arnold of Naperville, 72, stood in Wednesday’s lines, and then returned on Friday for another meal because he felt strongly this “was a critical freedom of speech issue.”

If there were any gay-marriage advocates there to protest during Friday’s lunch hour, I couldn’t find them. I even approached two Gen-X men who were in line together thinking, well, maybe they were a couple. But both assured me they were “just two straight guys” who worked together at an Aurora technology company.

“If I had to vote right now on whether gays should have the right to marry, I’d check yes,” Joel No-Last-Name-Please told me, then pointed to his wedding band. “But I’m happily married. And seriously, I’m here only because I’m really hungry.”

This was the third time in three days I found myself hanging out in large groups of people in search of some all-American quotes. Around midnight Wednesday, about the time Chick-fil-A operator Doug Lockwood was finally closing his Aurora doors after that day’s record-breaking business, I was just leaving Midway Airport in Chicago. For at least four hours, I’d been standing with 2,000-plus flag-waving patriots greeting the Honor Flight veterans as they returned from their day at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

If you’re ever feeling down on America and think you might need a good shot of old-fashioned red-white-and-blue patriotism, I suggest finding out when the next Honor Flight is scheduled; then be there to shake the hands of these aging and ailing veterans as they finish off this amazing day.

With bands and bagpipes playing and honor guards saluting, these vets are finally getting the thank-you that eluded many when they returned from fighting a world war. Moving through the crowd, the majority being pushed in wheelchairs by fresh-faced men and women in today’s military uniforms, these tired vets wore smiles as wide as the airport tarmac as they listened to cheers of “U.S.A. ... U.S.A. ... U.S.A ...”

“It makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it?” remarked Brian Dolan, who was among the large group of family greeting 92-year-old Auroran Elmer Renner upon his return from this most recent Honor Flight.

Yes, it does. Unfortunately, it seems we’ve turned into a nation of bickering, whining and angry malcontents with little regard for those who dare disagree with our values or philosophies.

But it struck me, as I watched this inspiring parade of old heroes make their way through the crowd, that we have the right to be so disagreeable because of the sacrifices they made a long time ago.

Only in America can we turn chicken sandwiches into political fodder. And that’s something to crow about.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.