MONDAY is Memorial Day. As indicated in this week’s “Scrapbook” about the history of Memorial Day (see pages 4 and 5 of print and online editions), back in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved three holidays from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create the convenient three-day weekend. The holidays included Washington’s Birthday, Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30th date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971. In 1978, Veterans Day was changed back to its traditional date on November 11.
Unfortunately, Memorial Day, a federal holiday for honoring and mourning the military personnel who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, did not receive the same respect. For the past half century attempts have been made to change Memorial Day back to May 30th for every year, but those attempts have not been successful. Americans have to get that long weekend and, it is apparent, that many do not know why the holiday exists — except for a day off to grill, etc., for their “convenience”. I think what bothers me is the advertising for “Memorial Day Sales” or expressions to have a “Happy Memorial Day”. Show respect for what Memorial Day is about.
• MEMORIAL DAY services are held at several locations in the area each year. One of the largest gatherings is in the large pavilion in Fairview Park where some of the photos on page 5 in the print edition were shot several years ago.
Greg Collins, Superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Macon County, Inc., has notified “Commanders, Auxiliary Command-ers, Veterans and Friends” his organization will be commemorating Memorial Day on Monday, May 29, 2023 at the Fairview Park Pavilion at 10:00 A.M. The guest speaker will be Robert R. Tyler, Ph.D., Colonel United States Marine Corps (Retired)
Greg also wrote: “It would be appreciated if you would inform this office by phone, at 217- 424-1376, on or before May 26, 2023, of your intentions to participate in laying of a wreaths for our fallen. “Please be sure to check in with Paige, Neal or Greg on the day of the service.”
• EVENTS honoring our fallen heroes will be held at Graceland Cemetery in the 2000 block of North Oakland with Avenue of Flags Ceremony beginning at 9AM on Saturday May 27 and the Memorial Day Program beginning at 11:30AM on Monday May 29. It was my honor to speak at the Fairview Park and Graceland Cemetery services during the years I served as Decatur’s mayor. I’ve also had the honor to speak at some other Memorial Day services at area cemeteries over the years — and when I use the word “honor” that’s exactly how I regarded it.
The freedoms all of us enjoy in this community and nation were purchased with the blood of this nation’s armed forces members who gave the ultimate price.
• IMPORTANT INFO —A “Decatur citizen” (whose identity will be withheld although I know her name) sent me an email last week after finding my recent column about frustration with our new garbage hauler interesting. She wrote: “Thank you for publishing information about GFL. It’s concerning to find out so many customers are as unhappy as I am. I would like to provide some information I have found while dealing with our new garbage service, GFL. If you are in the Decatur city limits, your rate cannot be raised without City Council approval. The city’s website (Decatur il.gov) has a section under their ‘public information’ that details the local ordinance (chapter 56) and the current rates.
“Fortunately I found this information before I spoke with the representatives of GFL and was given a tremendous amount of misinformation. If your service or rates are not in line with the ordinance, you can make a complaint with the city. This can be done through the website or by calling 217-424-2783. “We have not been happy with GFL at all, but our previous company IV Container, set the bar pretty high. Best of luck to all of them…owners and employees.”
Thank you, “Decatur Citizen”, for some valuable information that goes beyond “talking trash”.
• WOW! How time flies…when you are having fun…or when you are getting older…or when you are getting older and having fun. (smile) Believe it or not, this year’s Farm Progress Show, isn’t far off and will be held in Progress City next to Richland Community College in Decatur, Aug. 29-31.
When we were selected as one of two communities (Boone, Iowa was the other winner) to bring the Farm Progress Show to Decatur every other year for 20 years, it seemed like a 20 year agreement would be forever! Now, this show will be the tenth one in Decatur and the economic impact on our area from the show is incredible! Matt Jungmann, national events director for Farm Progress, says when he and his team inked a deal with the two communities in the early 2000s that locked in 10 shows over 20 years, they estimated each year would have a $10 million economic impact.
“Now we’re up to $31 million, and it feels good to more than fulfill the promise with our upcoming 10th show at the Decatur site,” Jungmann says.
In a news article in last week’s Tribune, Teri Hammel, Decatur Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, “estimates that more than 9,000 hotel rooms were booked in Macon County, Ill., alone during the 2021 Decatur Farm Progress Show. Her research did not include rooms booked before or after the show, when many exhibitors and company representatives arrive on-site for setup and teardown. In addition to hotels, Jungmann says the $31 million figure includes landscapers on-site, trucking for every last wood chip and mum, every chair, every table, spreading internet across 4 million square feet of exhibit space, and more. It does not include Farm Progress’ donations to volunteer groups.
“Plus, that number accounts for everyone who got in the truck, drove to Decatur or Boone, fueled up, bought Casey’s breakfast pizza, spent money for lunch at the concession stand, and drove home,” he adds.
Landing the Farm Progress Show was one of the community’s achievements during the years I served as mayor and the excitement that brought to everyone involved in competing to win the Farm Progress Show for our community, is still thrilling to think about. The focus of Global Agriculture is on the Farm Progress Show in Decatur Illinois during its every other year run. It was a great win 20 years ago, and it has become so successful over the years that the economic impact on Decatur and Macon County is three times what it was when the first one was held in Decatur — going from $10 million to $31 million plus the tremendous publicity it brings to our area!
• WOULD you believe there were a few council members (fortunately, not a majority) who questioned the wisdom of running city water and sewer lines to the Farm Progress Show site in preparation for the event? It took some convincing but city water lines were constructed and, I’m safe in believing, it was a VERY GOOD investment for the City of Decatur! When we were there, as public officials, to greet the first show’s farmers and vendors, several of them who came from Nebraska, asked if I was related to Tom Osborne, the legendary Nebraska football coach. (It didn’t hurt the public relations for the mayor to have the same last name as the legendary Nebraska coach — although we were/are not related.)
Getting the Farm Progress Show to Decatur was a great, united effort when so many local leaders and citizens came together to win — and every two years when the show comes back to Decatur, it always generates great memories for me, and I’m sure many others who were involved in getting it here. It still is a great feeling…
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00 for the City Hall Insider to discuss the issues confronting Decatur and Central Illinois.