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Rebeca Marmolejo bravely speaks to the media after the funeral of her father, Chicago Police Department Officer and Beverly resident Eduardo Marmolejo, in December 2018, providing the most inspirational moment of the last 13 months. Rebeca, a student at Mother McAuley High School, also eulogized her father, who was killed in the line of duty. (Review photo)

The year 2019 is in the books. As the months go by, I always try to keep tabs on the year’s superlatives in preparing for this column. As always, there were emotional highs and lows this year. Here are some of my most memorable moments from 2019—and the end of 2018.

Most impressive moment

I have to go back to December 2018 for this—and I should have included it in last year’s column. After the funeral of Chicago Police Department Officer and Beverly resident Eduardo Marmolejo, his oldest child, Rebeca, a student at Mother McAuley High School, spoke at a news conference outside St. Rita High School’s Shrine Chapel. She was composed, tough and articulate in her delivery. I don’t know too many people who could address the media moments after saying goodbye to their father.

Story with the most feedback

For our Memorial Day section, I wrote about U.S. Army soldier and Beverly resident Jim Beck, who was killed in the Vietnam War on May 14, 1968, five days before his 21st birthday. I visited with his brother, Tom Beck, after he dropped off some memorabilia about Jim.

About the only things I knew about Tom Beck growing up was that he was an intimidating Ridge Beverly Little League umpire in the ’90s and lived across the street from an elementary school friend. Talking to Tom about his brother was another example that you never know what others have been through.

Best quote

“Politics is life.”

Corina Turcinovic and I came to this conclusion after speaking about her tumultuous struggle to stay in the United States. Turcinovic, a former longtime Beverly resident from France, worked for decades to earn permanent residency here. She had cared for her late husband, Marin Turcinovic, who was paralyzed after a car accident, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities had attempted to deport her. With U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski’s help, she finally was allowed to stay this summer. She has since moved to Florida.

Turcinovic discussed how “politics is life” toward the end of our lengthy interview at the Starbucks on 103rd Street and Longwood Drive. Political issues are intertwined with every aspect of life, including sports. People often say that sports should be an escape from politics—and everyone deserves a distraction once in a while. But, it’s almost always appropriate to discuss important societal issues, including at a pro football or basketball game.

If you need a break from politics, maybe consider napping.

Best game

As I’ve said in the past, I enjoy covering a high school game or two when the stakes are high. That was the case when the Br. Rice basketball team hosted Simeon in a regional final in March. The Crusaders nearly pulled off the upset. They had the ball with 10 seconds left and the game tied, but a costly turnover led to the Wolverines having the last shot. Off a missed free throw, Simeon freshman A.J. Casey—all 6’6” of him—put back the game-winning shot just before the buzzer, providing a silencing, shocking end to a great game. Br. Rice had its season ended by Simeon for the third time in four years—and that game really felt like it might be the one where the Crusaders would finally beat their nemesis.

Best day

As odd as it might sound, during my time at The Beverly Review, I’d never walked in the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade, as Editor-in-Chief Bob Olszewski usually takes photographs that day. I walked this year from the starting point at 103rd Street and Western Avenue about a mile down, and it was easily the most wholesome parade experience I’ve had as I said hello to many familiar faces in the crowd on a clear, comfortable day.

A couple people on that March 17 day asked about whether my third child had been born yet—sure enough, about two weeks before schedule, Grace Brigitte Garmes arrived that night. Fittingly, our St. Patrick’s Day baby has red hair and blue eyes (and looks like her dad, who looks like his mom, whose last name is O’Brien).

What I’m looking forward to in 2020

Will President Donald Trump be removed from office—then be elected to a second term? Will Lipinski fend off challengers again in the race for the Third Congressional District of Illinois? Will new businesses diversify the community? Which high school winter and spring sports teams will make serious runs at state titles? Can the Bears trade Mitch Trubisky for a couple Janson’s cheese dogs? Can the Bulls do the same with Coach Jim Boylen?

On a serious note, have a blessed 2020.

Happy New Year!