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Wayne's Words: Life goes on

Wayne Horne | 2/7/2019, 6 a.m.
President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday coincided with the Chinese New Year known in many Asian ...

President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday coincided with the Chinese New Year known in many Asian countries, including China, as Tet. In Vietnam the new year is officially named Tet Nguyen Dan. Tet is considered one of the most important holidays in Asian culture with families gathering in their hometowns to celebrate, much in the same way families gather in the USA for Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Before the Tet holiday begins Vietnamese try to get rid of any "bad fortune" by cleaning their homes, buying new clothes, resolving disputes, and paying their debts. The Vietnamese spend much of the holiday paying respect to family and friends. They also court lady luck because they believe that events occurring during Tet can determine what happens during the rest of the year.

It seems almost ironic that the State of the Union address was held on the first day of the Tet holiday. Especially the idea of “resolving disputes” and “paying their debts.” Good advice.

The Tet holiday also holds an indelible memory for the United States, particularly for those who served in the military during the Tet offensive in 1968 Vietnam. The occasion that year was supposed to begin a cease-fire in the shooting war that would last several days. Instead, the government of North Vietnam used the event to begin an offensive that turned out to be a turning point in the war that eventually ended Americans popular support of the war.

Much of the Vietnam War timeline coincided with the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Martin Luther King’s “I have A Dream” speech in August of 1963 defines the civil rights movement. But a far less memorable and controversial speech in April of 1967 not only condemned the war in Vietnam, but also connected the plight of Vietnam’s poor population caught in the middle of the war’s destruction with that of the determination of the civil rights movement toward equality.

King’s prophecy in that speech also connected the Vietnam war with the idea of the forever wars of today. We have been continually at war somewhere around the world ever since the Vietnam war, usually in the name of peace, but today we make extensive use of smart military weapons that put fewer military personnel in harms way. However, the collateral damage that is done to the countries we engage in war still exists. As a country, we have almost become numb to the idea of superiority of our own interests over the interests of other countries. That is not to say all military conflicts are bad, but not all military conflicts are good.

One last thing… it’s a tough pill to swallow that downtown Joliet is now located in a floodplain. Especially when probably no one alive today has witnessed any flooding in the downtown area. However, it is interesting to note that this is not a surprise to the knowledgeable people at City Hall in downtown Joliet. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) first made the City aware of the probability of a change in the floodplain map in 2005. Rather than make contingency plans in the event common sense did not prevail, the City opted to go to court instead of plan for a possible future levee. Downtown property owners now face the prospect of buying flood insurance that will protect their property in the event of a loss from a flood that is almost certain not to happen.

Joliet’s City Hall has a history of fighting the rules rather than be proactive, just in case. Remember the protracted lawsuit to take ownership of Evergreen Terrace? It was never a practical idea, but we “won “the lawsuit and now it’s ours. The end result to date is there is no particular benefit on the horizon either for the residents who live there or the City of Joliet as the new owners of the property. As was predicted years ago, there is no source of money to improve the property as originally envisioned. Good planning.

Another example would be the continuous delay of more than 20 years to comply with an EPA mandated requirement to separate stormwater run-off from city wastewater. The project is now on course for completion, but the delay caused the cost to complete the project to more than double. Twenty years ago, we had money from gaming revenues for capital projects like this. We built a baseball stadium instead. And life goes on.

Stay tuned…

Contact Wayne at wayneswords@thetimesweekly.com