Think about safety

during boating season

It was a cold Saturday in April. My wife and I put on long underwear, thermal shirts, boots and life vests and headed out in the 16-foot skiff to fish near Ludlum Bay. We threw out the anchor and cast our hooks into the water. No fish bit.

In the distance we saw a fisherman in a kayak capsize. The water was 49 degrees.

"Little help," the man cried out.

We pulled in the lines and headed toward him. We got him in the boat, tied the kayak with a tow rope to the transom and took him to his car.

In 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard reported 4,515 boating accidents that claimed the lives of 651 people. Another 3,000 people were injured.

These statistics and our fishing trip tell me that if we all used a little more common sense, if we slowed down when approaching other boats or structures, if we listened to the forecast and if we stayed sober, a lot of these accidents could be avoided.

As captains, we are obligated to help those in distress, and that makes perfect sense. We are equally obligated to do everything in our power to avoid emergency situations so that we don't put ourselves or anywhere else in danger.

Our Saturday, despite the cold and the lack of bites, was a beautiful day on the water. It was also a good day to remind ourselves to check the charge on the VHF, make sure the flares are up-to-date, check the wires on the bilge pump and call someone to let them know when we're going out and when we'll be back. It all increases the chances that we'll be back to fish another day.



Remember Tillman

as an American hero

On April 22, 2004, an honorable young man with the truest sense of discipline and loyalty made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

Disturbed by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Pat Tillman gave up a professional football career to join the Army Rangers. He was a voracious reader and a scholar with a 3.84 grade-point average. He was an All-American football player who led his school to within three points of a national championship.

When he entered the Army Rangers in July 2002, Tillman reluctantly became a symbol for Americans wanting to avenge 9/11. But he did not want to be used for political purposes. He had strong reservations about the invasion of Iraq and planned to meet with political activist Noam Chomsky. But he passed on an offer to be excused from the second half of his three-year commitment and return to the National Football League, which would have made him wealthy. Four months later, as the result of his superiors' bad decision to split his platoon, Pat was shot by fellow platoon members.

The Bush administration and the Army kept the fact that Tillman was the victim of friendly fire from his family and the nation for five weeks. His family fought for years to get the truth from the Army. No high-ranking members of the Bush administration were held accountable for the coverup.

Tillman's story is detailed in the documentary "The Tillman Story" as well as in the books "Boots on the Ground by Dusk" by Mary Tillman and "Where Men Seek Glory" by John Krakauer. During April, please take a moment to reflect on this great American who made the ultimate sacrifice for us all.



We should all help

those fighting addiction

Regarding the April 13 editorial, "Fighting heroin addiction/Rehab beds needed":

As the CEO of the John Brooks Recovery Center, I am greatly saddened and angered by the heroin usage and overdose epidemic and the local response. This editorial talks about the need for treatment beds while letters are printed comparing recovering addicts to garbage.

We stand back from "those people" as if any of us are immune from addiction. I would hope that after decades of fighting the war on drugs, we would have at least learned how pervasive the problem is and would embrace those pursuing recovery.

But just the opposite occurs. We have municipalities operating as medieval fiefdoms, galvanizing the populace against the expansion of treatment for addiction.

Once again we hear the rallying cry of "Not in our town. It's bad for business," as if gun violence and drug dealing are not bad for business.

We continue to fail to make the connection between drug addiction and the rapidly growing violent underground economy. Who will stand up against the prejudice generated by fear and ignorance? Who will speak up for those seeking a way out from addiction?



John Brooks Recovery Center

Atlantic City