Giving speeches like this is difficult. I do much better at policy. You learn the facts and use logic and reason to make conclusions. But when you are trying to speak to the emotions of a tragic event like the one that happened on these grounds 25 years ago, logic cannot be used to explain the loss of life — especially when so many of those were taken at such a young age.
As we mourn those who lost their lives, the best we can do is honor them with our actions. And for 25 years Plainfield has. You see, I moved to Plainfield shortly after the Tornado. The stories were fresh in everyone’s mind. While I didn’t experience the mass destruction, I did experience the city’s rebirth. Watching a community come together as we have and always will, is a tribute to the traditional American spirit, and while there are many reasons why I chose to move here, it is the togetherness that has always impressed me and made Plainfield my ideal place to raise my family. I’m sure many here today can cite various terrific reasons, but one of the reasons that we all share is our great sense of community — our spirit — the way we help each other.
When the major flood of 1996 occurred, we came together and overcame its struggles collectively, and when we were hit by flood again just a few years later, we did the same.
Every few years a community has its togetherness, and its grit, checked, and here in Plainfield, we honor those we’ve lost by never forgetting what a great community we are. I remember getting a robocall to help make sandbags during our last flood — 2013 I believe.
When I arrived to help, I saw that the problem was that we didn’t have enough supplies to match the number of people who came to help. Sometimes it takes an outsider’s perspective to really help you understand what you have at home.
My wife and I had out-of-town guests visiting a few years back. A bad storm hit the night they came and downed several trees in the area and blocked some roads. While my home was spared, several neighbors were not. Our guests were surprised by the amount of damage to the area, but they were more surprised by how quickly the neighborhood worked together to clean up the mess.
By the early afternoon, I was back to enjoying the day on my deck with our friends and one of them said, “Wow, that really happened? Do you guys just help each other like that all the time? That was like a scene out of a cheesy movie.” I said, “That’s how we do things in Plainfield, IL”.
So for the next 25 years, let’s continue to honor those who lost their lives during the tornado by keeping Plainfield the wonderful community it is by holding each other up when the world tries to bring us down. Thank you very much and God bless Plainfield.