Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Having Served Its Purpose

            In less than 10 seconds it was gone.  It took months of full force effort, sometimes 24-hours a day, to build but not to bring it.  What was it?  Wetzel Residential Hall at Western Illinois University.  The impact of the implosion touches families in way that has nothing to do with the explosion itself.

            I attended W. I. U., but I didn't live in any of the resident halls since I got married about the time I started my bachelor's degree, which was when most people my age were graduating with theirs.  However, for about 22 thousand people, the implosion of Wetzel Hall revived memories of their living in that particular hall.  For others, they remembered visiting friends in that building, which is something I did a couple of times.

            Yet, the whole incident triggered discussions and disagreements in the community surrounding the college.  Why are they destroying it?  Isn't that a huge waste of money?  They're what—building a park in its place?  When their enrollment goes back up are they going to ask the state to build them a brand new residence hall—and tax us for it?  Why should they keep it when it is over 40 years old?  How can it possibly be up-to-date with technology and safety needs when it's that old?  Why should the university keep paying for the heating and maintenance for 13-story empty building?  Did it really cost more than $2 million to take it down?  How can they really recycle 95% of what's left of it?

            Regardless whether someone agreed with the decision to take it down or vehemently opposed it, everyone is reminded that nothing in this world stays the same.  King Solomon knew this when he wrote Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:  "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. . ."; nothing lasts forever.  How good it is to be reminded of that fact while we still have a chance to appreciate what we have now.

            Watching the implosion of Wetzel Hall live stimulated our appreciation and awe of the planning, preparation, and precision of safely carrying out this feat.  Yet, at the same time, it touched my family, especially the adults, in a different way as well.  Our time on this earth is so short.  When we are young, we think 30 is old, maybe even "over the hill." The closer you get to being 30, the more you realize that 30 is quite young.  A man down the street just celebrated his 100th birthday, and I wonder when I celebrate my 100th birthday whether I will consider my life to be long or surprisingly short.
            Wetzel Hall's time had come.  It had served its purpose.  When our time has come, will we be able to confidently say we have served our purpose?

If you would like to see the photos or recording of the implosion, you can visit http://www.wiu.edu/student_services/housing/wetzel/, but I believe the footage is better at http://www.facebook.com/wiu.edu?rf=112054308814575.

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