There have been some pretty cool weeks that I’ve had as your State Representative, and I would say this one was close to the top. Last Friday, I was invited to attend a ceremony at the VA Illiana Medical Center in Danville honoring Veterans, especially POW/MIA. Honoring Veterans and those who’ve sacrificed so much for the rest of us always tops my list of priorities, and I was humbled to be asked to attend a truly touching ceremony. The ceremony included honoring the area’s surviving POWs, including several WWII Veterans. Nothing elicits the emotion of true American Pride more than talking to a 90+ year old man in a wheelchair who, 75 years ago as a kid, stormed the beaches of Normandy, defending Freedom and setting out to liberate Europe from the Nazi Tyranny. These men stand for and literally represent the best of America. It was an honor to be at their ceremony.
Early this week, I visited the Illinois Center for Transportation, a department of the University of Illinois, in Rantoul. The Center provided a great presentation and a tour of their facility, where cutting edge work and research is being done. Currently, extensive research is being conducted to utilize the newest technology to create the most durable and resilient road construction products. This research could potentially greatly enhance the longevity of our Transportation Infrastructure, driving down the cost of maintenance for the taxpayer. In addition to this research, plans are in place to build a facility to explore new technology that could revolutionize the way we travel. These exciting advancements will be tested across various facets of the local economy, including Agriculture. The advancements researched in Rantoul, including autonomous vehicles, could have significant economic and environmental impact. The research of the future is happening at the University of Illinois and an important part of that research is taking place in Rantoul. I’m excited for the economic opportunities for a wonderful community and I’m proud that potential, earth-shattering advancement is taking place in the 104th District.
The Illinois Center for Transportation visit inspired me. It did so, coincidentally as I am reading a book called American Moonshot, about President Kennedy’s challenge to the Nation to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade in the face of fierce competition from the Soviet Union. I’m reminded both as I read the book and as I tour facilities like the one in Rantoul that with our dedication, hard work, and American ingenuity, almost anything is possible. Technologies that seem far-fetched today, could be here tomorrow, positively changing forever the way we live and reaping untold economic benefits. It is up to us to be courageous enough to see that positive vision of the future and then dedicate ourselves to the hard work of making that future happen. That is the story of American success. Success that can occur right here in Illinois if only we have the vision and the courage for it. Despite our challenges, I see that bright future for Illinois. Let’s be the positive change that makes it happen.