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Lynn Hummel: A salute to the all important deadline

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opinion Detroit Lakes,Minnesota 56501
Detroit Lakes Online
Lynn Hummel: A salute to the all important deadline
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Somebody once said, “If it weren’t for the last minute, a lot of things would never get done.” I agree with that and salute deadlines as one of the greatest motivators of all time.


Every day is a deadline for something and somebody. For example, there was a daily paper on my doorstop at 5:30 this morning. That paper represented a deadline, not only for the delivery person, but for all the reporters who had stories and articles on those pages and all the production people who rolled the presses. What if one of the reporters had missed a news deadline? Well, that story wouldn’t have been news anymore would it?

In many homes, the main meal of the day is a deadline. Those of us who aren’t responsible for that meal probably don’t appreciate the pressure of that deadline, but it’s there. With every deadline, there’s pressure.

As the school year winds down, there are deadlines all over the place: cramming for final exams, completing projects on schedule, wrapping up loose ends, and for the faculty, correcting papers, projects, and exams and getting grades out on time. May is a month of daily deadlines in schools and a high pressure time.

Every election day is a deadline. For voters, maybe you can vote early, but you can’t vote late. For candidates, there is only so much time (way too much) to raise money, present your program, campaign and throw dirt (we voters hate that you know — it turns us off) at your opponent.

We don’t have to vote, but we do have to pay taxes. The income tax deadline is April 15, maybe the most prominent deadline in our year, and the pressure is not only on taxpayers, but the tax return preparers. Heavy pressure. But if the government didn’t get paid on time, how could it operate? Same thing with property taxes — different dates, same pressures.

During a cold, wet spring, farmers must ask themselves the question whether there is a deadline for planting. Well, there certainly are deadlines for buying crop insurance; but what about planting? There are no legal deadlines, but Mother Nature has her own rules. For example, Mother says that if you are farming in North Dakota or Northwest Minnesota, you should have your barley, oats, and spring wheat/durum seeded by May 31 and your flax and sunflowers in the ground by June 10th. We hope you all make it.

Does the date June 5, 1944, mean anything to you? That was the date scheduled for the massive allied attack in World War II called D-Day. Under Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, Operation Overlord was organized in great detail months and months in advance. The American, Canadian and British forces on the beaches of Normandy in France involved 130,000 men, 20,000 vehicles, 11,000 aircraft, a fleet of 4,300 vessels of all sizes, shapes and descriptions and 2,600 landing barges. If a date was ever a solid deadline, June 5, 1944, was solid. Yet on that date, a huge Atlantic storm kept everything on hold and the deadline was extended by one day. The successful attack, the beginning of the end of World War II, commenced on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

D-Day proves that even deadlines can sometimes be extended. Taxpayers get extensions on filling their tax returns, dinner waits 30 minutes to an hour on occasion, fiscal cliffs get delayed, from time to time, errant lovers are given “one more last chance,” and sometimes even Mother Nature grants a short extension on her planting deadlines. But don’t count on it. The day after an assignment is due maybe a day late and a dollar short just like the day after election.

If you’re a perfectionist, a deadline might force you to finish something with a few flaws. It usually does. But give deadlines their due — respect them because they get things done and keep our lives and this world moving forward.