Wayne’s Words: Celebrating the 4th of July

Wayne Horne | 7/2/2020, 6 a.m.
The Fourth of July is this weekend. It will be a three-day holiday that will probably be somewhat calmer than ...

The Fourth of July is this weekend. It will be a three-day holiday that will probably be somewhat calmer than past years due to COVID-19. Most States, including Illinois, will be more open for celebration than has been possible the last three months. While many restrictions on businesses have been lifted, social distancing and wearing a mask covering are still in place and recommended.

The Fourth of July is the celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The day celebrated as Independence Day is fixed on the Fourth of July, but like many historical events it’s an arbitrary date chosen to accommodate the celebration of our independence from Great Britain. John Adams, the second U.S. president, refused to acknowledge the Fourth of July as Independence Day. He recognized July 2, as the date of the official birthday of the new nation. He did, however, host the first Fourth of July party held at the White House in 1801. Perhaps he’s the original “flip-flopper.”

One of five signers of the Declaration that were captured by the British during the Revolutionary War was tortured until he recanted his signature and declared loyalty to the king. When Richard Stockton of New Jersey was released later he reaffirmed his dedication to the cause and denounced the use of torture that forced him to lie to save his life. Thomas Jefferson, who originally included a rebuke of the slave trade as part of the text, even though he was a slave owner, wrote much of the document. The language was removed before the states of South Carolina and Georgia would accept the manuscript. During the Civil War both sides celebrated the Fourth of July as their own holiday. History always seems to be a great reminder of how far we have come…or not.

One last thing…

Joliet’s Finance Committee received an update late last month on funding the city’s Alternative Water Source Program, specifically the funding mechanisms available to pay for the transition of Joliet’s drinking water source from the current deep aquifers to Lake Michigan water. The full City Council then had a special meeting and heard a similar presentation of finance committee meeting.

The City Council in January presented a proclamation to the Environmental Commission regarding the Joliet Alternative Water Source Program that stated in part, the Commission “exceeded expectations and provided for a thorough, unbiased and transparent study process for the benefit of all City of Joliet water customers and potential regional water partners.” Subsequently, the Environmental Commission was disbanded. The expertise acquired by the EC members after almost two years of meetings and research was no longer needed. All of the conclusions and research, including funding mechanisms, was published in a two-part report of hundreds of pages. Now the same educational process is being done with the City Council. The questions and review of funding mechanisms was completed by the EC and printed in the report issued by the city. Much of the material presented to the council is contained in already published reports.