A day to remember life's consistent joys

An enduring stereotype of "the news" is that it's all bad, that the only stories that sell are the sensational or the bizarre. Not true. On Thanksgiving Day, I like to emphasize that in any given week, the many uplifting news stories, prominently told and mostly involving everyday people going about the business of everyday life, consistently remind us of a truer, more uplifting portrait of daily life than we might see in the trauma of crime, the shock of disaster or the acrimony of politics. Among an abundance of items from the past week, consider:

• Photographer John Starks' Page 3 photo story last Saturday about a crowd of 550 students from Adolph Link Elementary School in Elk Grove Village who sang, danced and cheered as they packed 29,808 meal bags for Feed My Starving Children - enough to feed 81 Third World children a meal a day for a year.

• In Sunday's Sports section, columnist Jim O'Donnell described hockey great Eddie Olczyk's heartwarming return to health from a cancer diagnosis just over two years ago. When Olczyk rides the NBC float in today's Macy's Parade, "he might as well be floating," O'Donnell wrote, for he's working 115 hockey telecasts this year, is NBC's lead thoroughbred handicapper and has just published a poignant new book.

• In news Sunday, reporter Bob Susnjara described the work of South Barrington veteran John Schwan, chairman of the board and retired CEO of CTI Industries Corp. in Barrington, who uses his business connections to help veterans in need.

• The front page of Monday's Neighbor section was dominated by Eileen O. Daday's "Caring in Action" story about The Harbour, a safe haven in Park Ridge that is expanding its mission to help suburban teenage girls at risk of being homeless.

• Reporter Steve Zalusky described in Monday's Main News section the efforts of Buffalo Grove village leaders whose goal of creating a community charitable foundation are coming to fruition, and at the top of Monday's page 1, our Marni Pyke offered the first of a two-part report on air traffic controllers at O'Hare whose quick thinking averted an almost certain collision of two jetliners, saving hundreds of lives.

• Indeed, sometimes the uplifting news from a single edition is almost overwhelming. Just yesterday, photographer Rick West provided an inspiring Page 1 account of veterans caught up in the criminal justice system who graduated from the Cook County Veterans Treatment Court that helps them turn their lives around; another Daday story led the Neighbor section with a report on burgeoning attendance at the newly renovated St. James Parish church in Arlington Heights; a Main News story told of the fellow high school rock bands that are stepping up to help raise money for 15-year-old guitarist Rylan Wilder, who was injured in a shootout at an Irving Park Road music school between robbery suspects and police; and Marie Wilson told the story of compassion rising up against hate at a gathering responding to recent stories of racial conflict.

No, we can't escape tragedy, sadness and argument in our lives and our news media. But every day is also filled with cause for joy and praise. Remember that today, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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