Chicago has special meaning to me. In my heart it is the most beautiful and welcoming city I have ever lived in. It is also the city that changed my life in so many ways. I lived there in my early 20's but had spent much time there as a child as well. I am a born mid-westerner and my love of Chicago is huge! I love that you can meet people on Michigan Avenue or in Wrigleyville and they can become some of your best friends for life. It is a big city with a small town feel. At least it was back in the mid 90's. Chicago has another special meaning in my life too. It changed my life in so many ways. I learned the beauty of the beach in Chicago and I learned the meaning of true friendship and it was this friendship that has impacted me for the last 16 years. On June 21, 1998-Father's Day-Chicago lost one of it's born angels. Albert Galloza was murdered in the city that he grew up in and loved dearly. His murder has never been solved as far as I know. I had been in close contact with the family for many years but in order for me to grieve and move forward with my life, I had to break ties. His brother is a Chicago Cop and Albert had been driving his personal car when killed, so everyone knew about his shooting immediately. He wasn't the intended target but he was the one who was taken. I was told he didn't feel a thing, it was immediate and for that I am grateful. I have a tattoo on my ankle for him that says, "I believe in angels" because Albert is my angel and I know he watches over me. When the cubs play, I think of Albert, when they get a run and win a game, I know he is up there smiling and cheering and I know everything is going to be ok. When I see an Uno's Pizzeria I smile, that is where we met working and since I don't live around many, I know that is Albert's way of looking in on me. I always use Lawry's seasoning when I cook because his father was a big time chef at a Chicago one and he worked there too. I haven't been back to visit in a long time but I keep Chicago and Albert in my heart always, they are both a part of it. Albert lived and died in the city he loved. He wasn't in a gang, he was a good man, he worked hard, took care of his family and friends. His group of friends worked hard to stay out of trouble and they did. They were a good bunch. I wish you would highlight this story in your series. Albert always believed he would die young because even though he stayed out of the gangs, they were all around him and he said it was only time before he got caught int he crossfire. He was right. He wasn't perfect. He made plenty of bad choices but he was such a great man, the one that everyone smiled when they saw him. The one that lit up the party and made me laugh on the day of my uncle's funeral when I didn't know anything but tears were possible. I truly believe he was there to help me when he died, he is my angel. He is Chicago, he is a part of Chicago, he is Chicago in my heart. He is a part of Chicago that no one speaks of but deserves a voice, so please give Albert Galloza a voice. One that radiates Chicago and the magic he brought to people's lives!
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