Wayne's Words: Vets remember Tet and One last thing

Wayne Horne | 1/10/2018, 12:36 p.m.
This week Wayne talks about the Tet Offensive and parking in downtown Joliet.

The conclusion of the holiday season means most of us will return to the routines before the holidays, instead of the hustle and bustle experienced the last few weeks. There are other holiday seasons that remain in other parts of the world. I was reminded of an upcoming holiday that many soldiers experienced in Vietnam 50 years ago this month. It is the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, so dubbed in history.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Tet is celebrated as the Vietnamese New Year and observed during the first several days of the lunar calendar beginning at the second new moon after the winter solstice. It’s complicated but this year it will be celebrated on February 16 and continue for five more days. It’s a big deal in Vietnam. It turned out to be a big deal in 1968, too.

In 1968, the first day of the Tet holiday was January 30, and it was supposed to be the beginning of a four to five-day truce. Military Intelligence reports indicated a build-up of enemy forces was occurring in various locations around South Vietnam. American forces remained on alert, but there is little doubt that a more relaxed atmosphere was in place in anticipation of the Tet new year celebration.

A friend of mine told me about what he experienced that January 30. He was sitting in a base camp tent watching television with three or four fellow soldiers when mortars and rockets started landing in the compound without any warning. They all rose from their seats at the same time and dove into the bunker shelter just outside the tent. They all survived the attack and my friend spent the next 12 months counting down the days until he came home.

The history books record that the 1968 Tet Offense was a major turning point in the war. Both sides declared victory and by the middle of February most major cities in South Vietnam were in control of Allied Forces. The exception was the Imperial city of Hue which required almost a month of combat and the loss of many lives before complete control was returned to the South Vietnamese government.

The Vietnam war was the last “big” war for the United States military. Since it ended in 1975, two generations have been born and raised and the use of large numbers of the American military is no longer tolerated. We still have soldiers in harms way all over the world, but technology plays a much bigger role. It’s no less dangerous for the soldiers, there are just fewer of them exposed to hostile fire.

In case you’re wondering why I brought this up, I know a lot of vets who still remember that time and are grateful they are still here to remember it.

One last thing…just wanted to thank the city for hiring a law firm to collect the unpaid parking fines levied by the City of Joliet for overtime parking. Perhaps it was motivated by fact that the budget continues to show a deficit in the enterprise Fund for Parking Operations as it has for many years. Maybe the motivation was from this column which has pointed it out for several years.

According to the 2018 Budget, there are 6,826 public and private parking spaces controlled by the city. Many of the spaces are used by short term parkers in downtown Joliet. The City still insists on requiring people to pay for space they will use for less than 20 minutes before moving on from the bank, the Post Office, drop off paperwork at an attorney’s office, etc. Those spaces could easily be monitored electronically without little possibility of a fine. A side benefit might be the encouragement of more people wanting to come downtown without the hassle of a possible parking ticket.

The bigger problem is the lack of adequate parking downtown. With the soon to be completed train station and the future construction of the new courthouse, the problem is going to increase dramatically. The poor condition of the parking decks will need to be addressed soon and that will only exacerbate the lack of parking spaces.

Oh, by the way, did you really have to hire an outside firm to do the city’s bidding? Stay tuned…

Comments or questions? Wayne at wayneswords@thetimesweekly.com