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University of Notre Dame

     I can’t wait to see Grandpa,” announced Peter as he anxiously fluttered from branch to branch. Peter and his mother lived at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. She promised that he could visit his grandfather in Chicago when he turned one. Today was Peter’s first birthday. The sun was rising, and Peter was ready to go.

     “Come here, Peter,” called his mother, “and stand still while I tell you how to get there.” Peter landed next to his mother. “Fly to the great lake and then follow the shoreline west until you see the large buildings of Chicago. Once you are there, ask where the Sears Tower is. That is where Grandpa lives.”

     “That’s easy, Mom. I know I can do it.” Peter fluttered off again. “Can I go now?”

     “Not yet. Come here, and pay attention. I have one more thing to tell you.” Peter landed again. “Every time I left home, your grandfather would tell me, ‘Remember your inner compass.’”

     “I always do,” replied Peter. “I don’t even think about it. My compass tells me which way to fly when it’s foggy or dark. I can even fly with my eyes closed.”

     Peter’s mother smiled. “That compass is very important, but I am talking about another compass.”

     “Two compasses? That’s silly. You mean one compass tells me to fly one way and the other compass tells me to fly another way?”

     Peter’s mother laughed. “Grandpa was talking about a different kind of compass−a feeling in your heart that helps you decide what to do and fills you with peace once you have made the right choice.”

     “Like the time those boys were being mean to Patty and I stood up for her? I was afraid they would be mean to me too, but something told me I should help her anyway. When they were hurtful to me, it didn’t seem to matter after all, because helping her made me feel so warm inside.”

     “Exactly. You are so smart, Peter. When you go out into the world, you will meet all sorts of animals with all sorts of ideas about what you should do. Sometimes it will be confusing. It will feel like you are flying in the fog or the dark. You will need your inner compass to help you make the right choices.”

     “So if I am ever confused about what I should do, all I need to do is to listen to my inner compass,” confirmed Peter.

     “Precisely, and when you make the right choice you will feel good inside.” She rubbed her cheek against his and whispered, “I love you, Peter.”

     “I love you, too, Mom. Can I go now?”
Peter’s mother smiled. “Yes, you may go. Be careful. Have a nice visit with Grandpa, and give him a big hug for me.”

     Peter yelled, “Yippee!” as he dove off the branch. He circled around and waved to his mother and said, “Thank you so much for letting me go, Mom. I love you! Goodbye!”

“I love you, too! Goodbye, Peter!” she called, and then she sighed, “I will miss you so much.” As she watched him fly away, a tear rolled down her cheek.

Soldier Field

     Peter flew all morning. Finally, he noticed large buildings and a stadium ahead. He could hardly wait to see his grandfather. He spotted what he thought was a cat walking along a wall and decided to ask directions to the Sears Tower.

     “Excuse me, Mr....” began Peter.
cat. “Halt!” ordered the animal, whose tail popped up revealing he was a skunk, not a

Peter froze.

     The skunk peered into Peter’s eyes, and demanded, “Who do you think you are? You do not have clearance to fly in my airspace, you do not have clearance to land here, and you did not address me as ‘Sir.’ I am Major Stink, the commanding officer of this sector. Son, don’t you know how to follow protocol?”

     Peter trembled. His feathers shook. He was afraid Major Stink might hurt him. Instinctively he was about to fly away when he had the thought that he was in no real danger. He realized he could fly away in an instant, and it was impossible for Major Stink to follow him. Peter’s fear dissipated and confidence filled him. He challenged Major Stink. “Sir, how can this be your airspace if you cannot even fly?”

     Major Stink became visibly upset and shouted, “I am the commander of this sector! No one questions me! What I say goes! When I talk, people listen! If I say the airspace is mine, it’s mine!”

     The shouting frightened Peter again, but he quickly remembered he had nothing to fear. Peter proceeded more judiciously this time. “Sir, since you are in charge of this sector, you must know the location of the Sears Tower.”

     Major Stink regained his composure. He liked that Peter had recognized that he was in charge. “Of course, I know the coordinates of the Sears Tower,” he paused briefly and added, “but that is classified information.”

     Not thinking, Peter challenged Major Stink again. “Why is the location of the Sears Tower classified information?”

     Major Stink lost his temper again. “It is classified because I say it is classified!”
Still at peace and no longer afraid, Peter realized he needed to be more careful with Major Stink.
Major Stink proceeded, “Boy, do you see that stadium? What’s written on it?”

Peter read, “Soldier Field.”

“You need to be a better soldier,” commanded Major Stink. “You need to be brave and listen to orders.”

“Yes, Sir,” acknowledged Peter. Aware that Major Stink was not going to help him find the Sears Tower and anxious to get on with his trip, he politely excused himself. “Thank you, Sir. I need to get going now.” Then Peter flew away.

     Startled by Peter’s sudden departure, Major Stink fired words at Peter as if he were trying to shoot him out of the sky. “This is my airspace! I told you! You do not have clearance! Land immediately!”

      As Peter flew away, he marveled at the comforting peace that enveloped him, protecting him from the harsh words of Major Stink.

Shedd Aquarium

     Peter continued flying along the lake looking for someone else to ask directions. He saw an owl perched in a tree. He was excited because he knew that owls were very wise. Certainly the owl would know the directions to the Sears Tower.

     “Excuse me, Mr. Owl...” began Peter.

     The owl cleared his throat. “Professor Owl.”

     “Excuse me, Professor Owl. Where is the Sears Tower?”

     Professor Owl slowly turned his head toward Peter and spoke at a determined pace. “I love the Sears Tower. It is such a magnificent structure, an architectural marvel. Built between 1971 and 1973, the Sears Tower is the tallest building in the United States. It has 108 stories and stands 1,451 feet tall. With its antenna, it is 1,730 feet tall.”

     “Wow! That’s very interesting. I can’t wait to see it. I’ve come all the way from Notre Dame to visit...”

     “Notre Dame!” exclaimed Professor Owl with delight. “I once did a study on dialects with Professor Mockingbird of Notre Dame. Have you read his book, Say It Again?”

     “No,” replied Peter. He flapped his wings and fidgeted on the branch. He was anxious to get going. He was about to give up on Professor Owl like he did with Major Stink. Then he had the feeling he should be patient and let Professor Owl speak his mind. Although Peter wanted to find his grandfather quickly, he knew in his heart that Professor Owl was only trying to help. Peter tried again nicely, “Professor Owl, you are so wise that I’m sure you know where the Sears Tower is.”

     “Of course I do, but there is something you need to know first: there is no more Sears Tower.”

     “No more Sears Tower?” Peter gasped in disbelief. “How could it just disappear? Did they knock it down?” Peter worried about how he was going to find his grandfather now.

     Professor Owl smiled. He finally had the young pigeon’s undivided attention. “No, it did not disappear. They did not knock it down.”

     “So where is it then?” Peter was confused.

     Professor Owl smiled broadly. He was very pleased that he had stumped Peter. “They renamed it. On July 16, 2009, at 10:00 AM Central Time, the Sears Tower was officially renamed the Willis Tower, but it will always be the Sears Tower to me.” 

     “Willis Tower,” Peter repeated slowly to make sure he had the name right. Then he returned to his original question, “So, where is the Willis Tower?”

     Professor Owl straightened his feathers and cleared his throat. “The Willis Tower is between Jackson and Adams on Wacker.” Professor Owl motioned toward the city with his left wing. “Did you know that all the East/West streets in that part of Chicago are named after United States presidents? There is Jackson, Adams, Madison, Monroe, Van Buren, and Harrison.”

     “Thank you for your help, Professor Owl. You are so wise. I’d like to stay longer, but I can’t wait to see my grandfather at the Willis Tower, which was completed in 1973 and stands 1,730 feet tall.” Peter winked.

     “Class dismissed,” announced Professor Owl. “Come back sometime, and I will give you a tour of Chicago’s Museum Campus. It has some of the best museums in the world−the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum.”

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