Column: Charlemagne inspires

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on Sept. 7, 2008

My fiancee and I agreed to meet up in St. Charles last weekend.

Having forgotten my cell phone, though, I had to use the phone at Hotel Baker to let her know I had arrived. She didn’t pick up, and I left her a message to meet me at the bridge.

Unfortunately, I didn’t specify which bridge.

And thus I was waiting for a while at the Main Street bridge over the Fox River.

With some time to pass, I crossed the street and headed toward the monument with the two foxes on it. Hey, it was something to look at.

As many of you know, on the monument there is a snippet of “The Legend of Charlemagne” by C.V. Amenoff, the former mayor of St. Charles and former editor of the St. Charles Chronicle.

In the snippet, Charlemagne (a fox as it turns out) entreats his sons (or kits) to be the guardians of the growing settlement of St. Charles. Here was his advice to each son:

– You, my first born, are to be the guardian of the civic, the business, the industrial life of this community.

– Education will become important in the life of this growing community. And you, my second son, are to be the guardian of this educational and cultural expression.

– Soon after this community is settled, men will band together to worship, and you, my third son, are to be entrusted with the guardianship of this religious expression.

– Amid this beautiful setting, it is only natural that recreation activity will flourish, and you, my last-born, shall be the guardian of this natural recreation expression of man living in these surroundings.

It was like reading the instruction manual for putting together a local newspaper. Civics, business, education, religion, recreation – these are the building blocks of any community paper. Charlemagne might as well have been talking to me.

Newspapers are the guardians of all these facets of life. We let people know what is going on in government and business so that they can take action when necessary. We follow school news. We follow church news. We let people know what events are taking place in their communities.

Three days after my time with the monument, I officially became the editor of the Kane County Chronicle, a role that has been held by many great journalists whose large shoes I would have to fill. But here was Charlemagne reminding me just exactly what I was being called to do.

My fiancee finally showed up at the Main Street bridge after walking across two other bridges in St. Charles, slightly and rightly miffed with the vague instructions her husband-to-be gave her.

I smiled at her, sheepishly, of course. Charlemagne couldn’t help me with this situation. Foxes, my friends, can only do so much. The rest you need to do on your own. I apologized, took her hand in mine, and then we began walking north beside the Fox River.

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