By Kristin Boza
BAPA is proud to announce this year’s Community Service Award recipient, life-long Beverly/Morgan Park resident Carol Macola. Macola has dedicated her life to service to the community and our country; she was a Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Military Police Corps member from 1975 to 1977.
Macola is instrumental in producing BAPA’s annual Beverly/Morgan Park Memorial Day Parade, honoring fallen U.S. military personnel who died while serving our country. She works to find a Grand Marshal each year and connects with military organizations and scout troops to participate in the parade. She also donates monetarily to the parade; in 2022 she underwrote the cost of having the Jesse White Tumblers entertain the crowds along the parade route.
Macola marched in the parade in her youth with the Clissold Elementary School and Morgan Park High School bands, and with her Senior Girl Scout troop.
“When I saw how diminished the parade had become, I wanted to be a part of its rebuilding and re-energizing,” she said. “We have a community that recognizes military service and our community has lost young people in military duty — there are 13 people that we know of from MPHS who we lost in Vietnam. We are a community that encourages helping others through our schools, our youth programs, our adult service-minded groups, and through BAPA. The Memorial Day Parade allows us the opportunity to highlight what we have, as we remember and honor those who gave their lives so that we can have our freedoms.”
Macola joined the U.S. Army after completing a Bachelors Degree from Purdue University and a Masters Degree from the University of Birmingham, England. She also went on to earn a Masters in Education from the University of Illinois Chicago after her service. She was a platoon leader in a Military Police Company in Virginia during her time in the Army, when the Army was finding ways to engage women at the officer level.
Macola took her position along with only one other woman, and she says they leaned on each other when faced with sexist remarks. One time, their Company Commander told them they’d be participating in a 4-mile run, in their issued boots, along with the rest of the platoon the next morning. “He said he knew we wouldn’t be able to make it and smirked when he said he would understand if we didn’t do it,” she said. “My friend and I said we would do it, and we did. The whole time I kept thinking ‘I can’t quit unless she does,’ and later she told me she had the same thought. That pushed us to successfully complete the run and it did make a difference in how the guys under our command viewed us.”
Following her military service, Macola got married and had two children who were raised in Beverly/Morgan Park. Both children decided to join the military.
Macola became a Girl Scout leader and English teacher at Morgan Park High School and the Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences, which gave her the opportunity to help young people work toward being thinking and respectful adults. She still works with the Girl Scouts as a Council Delegate, Trainer, and Historian, and has had 10 years of Scouting experience as a child and 40 years of service as an adult.
One of many highlights in her life was being honored during the groundbreaking Operation HerStory honor flight for women veterans. “Operation HerStory validated my military service; it finally felt like the world accepted and recognized my military service as valuable,” she said.
Macola also served as a board member at Ridge Historical Society and has been a long-time BAPA member. “I do the things I’m passionate about, and that’s it. We have a community full of people who donate their time and are truly committed to getting involved,” she said. “There are goals in everything I do that are higher than me personally.”