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Jan. 23, 2001 PROBE

January 23, 2001

QUESTION: I believe the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. was turned into a national holiday because he was a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

As I rode my bike around town on King's birthday, I didn't see any flags up for our hero. People raise flags for other national heroes. Why not Martin Luther King Jr.? — Retired, Holtville

We know what you're thinking: Failing to put up flags was a racist snub of an African-American hero. We can't rule that out.

However, we choose to believe it was an oversight. The veterans who put up the flags see it as a patriotic chore. The veterans are getting older and less able to carry the load.

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After we got your letter, we made a list of our national holidays — New Year's, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

With the exception of Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Jr. is the only individual with an American holiday set aside for him.

Some people believe Columbus' discovery of the so-called "New World" was the most important event in the last millennium.

Abraham Lincoln and George Washington had their birthdays observed until it was decided this country has too many holidays. Now they share a holiday — Presidents' Day.

You'll notice that with the exception of religious celebrations and Labor Day, nearly all of the other holidays are patriotic observations.

If you want the flags up for your hero, you may have to put them up yourself — or fight as hard for a proper observation as was done to get the holiday established.

Maybe that's what you were doing with your letter to PROBE. But how are we all ever going to get along if we don't give each other a little slack, or at least the benefit of the doubt?

QUESTION (more or less): When the county widened Forrester Road, it left such a bump at Aten that if you hit it at highway speeds it almost ejects you from your seat. Thank goodness for seat belts! — Bus Driver, El Centro

County officials know about the bump, according to our source at the county roads department. They're going to smooth it out within the next three months.

There's a "bump ahead" sign out there to remind you to cut your speed before you hit it.

If there is an accident, we suppose the legal eagles can sort out blame when it happens.

QUESTION: There's an occasional aroma near my house that's so bad it wakes me up from a sound sleep. It rolls in about 2 a.m. Can you tell me what it is and where it's coming from? — Retching, Imperial County

It depends on where you live — and which way the wind is blowing. You didn't say.

If you live downwind from the Salton Sea, it could be the sea. When the sea really works up a stink, a north wind will waft the aroma to Holtville.

Modern technology has sweetened the air rising from the El Centro sewer plant, but some people claim they can still detect the plant's essence when the air is heavy.

You don't need a breeze to recognize the feedlot bouquet near Calexico. Once you've sniffed it, you can't forget it.

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