I like the recent photo of the Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin returning from her last mission. Years of scrapes and rough handling are evident, but she still cuts a sharp image.
What I don't like is that a few bad apples have tarnished her image at the end of nearly 50 years of proud service.
Sailors who manned her over the decades will remember her name and the good they accomplished together. The ship will now receive some yard work, refitting and a change of name before continued service in another nation's sea service.
This good-will transfer has been in the planning for years. Unfortunately the timing makes it look as if we are hiding a great ship's identity and sending it into the witness protection program.
A civilized society
There is a lot of press about violence and disrespect in our society - bullying, racist comments, religion bashing, gay bashing, robberies, murders, knockout game assaults, corruption, greed, lying and fraud. What, if anything, is being done to put society on a healing course?
Maybe, just maybe, a good start would be to put the 10 Commandments back in our schools. These commandments address many of our society's ills, such as:
1) Don't steal or murder,
2) Don't covet your neighbor's house,
3) Love your parents
4) Love your neighbor as yourself.
If children are confronted with these directives (moral norms) during their learning years, we will have a much better chance of living in a more civilized society based on respectfulness, not on hatred or evil.
I commend Mayor Bill Collins, Mayor Keith Summey, Commissioner Jim Rozier and the Rev. Robert Reid for recognizing the dangerous situation that pine trees in the I-26 median create, and having the courage to vote their convictions that enough people have been killed on this 19-mile stretch. They have my support for any offices they may wish to pursue.
The death toll is no longer 40 or 44. I have tracked it from December 2011 through December 2013. The death toll is now closer to 58, according to news clippings I have saved.
I do not use a cell phone. I do not drink and drive. I do not speed on the stretch from Ridgeville to Summerville. But I drive that suicide stretch only when I absolutely have to.
My wife will not drive it at all. She drives U.S. 78 all the way from Ridgeville to Trident Hospital because she is petrified of that stretch of I-26. There are no shoulders to get off in the median.
Anybody who tells me you can stop a car at 70, 65 or even 50 mph in 10 feet and not be killed by a pine tree is just ignoring the facts.
The SCDOT highway safety engineers know how to fix it and are willing to do so if politicians would stop the nonsense and let them.
Maybe it is time for 50 or so of the families of the deceased to talk to a class action attorney. About three years ago the state of Georgia paid a family $1 million for an interstate accident caused by neglect of repair, which resulted in one death. The state settled out of court.
I believe I-26 would be a lot more expensive and an easy case with the right jury.
West 5th North Street
I recently drove to Boone, N.C., where I was surprised to find winding mountain roads with narrow or non-existent shoulders, sharp switchbacks and steep roadside drop-offs, all closely bordered by dangerous, life-threatening trees.
Despite these obviously hazardous driving conditions, North Carolina residents seemed able to operate their vehicles in relative safety, protected by little more than the commonsense desire to "keep it between the bumpy things."
This experience caused me to seriously question the logic behind proposed plans to clear-cut trees along miles of flat, straight Interstate 26. Are South Carolina drivers that much less competent than North Carolina drivers?
Perhaps a better solution would be to keep the trees and require S.C. drivers to pass the N.C. driving test.
Captain Toms Crossings
Clean it up
I have a great tip for everyone for the new year: Let's make the world a cleaner place.
If everyone would take a walk around his neighborhood and pick up some litter, not only would our world look better, but so would we. Walking and bending over are good exercise.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all.
On Dec. 11 Team Charleston Spouses Club members packed 550 individual boxes and bags filled with homemade cookies and candies for our deployed troops and young airmen living in the dormitories.
Twenty-eight large boxes were packed for deployed units. Christmas cards with heart-felt greetings were provided by the American Red Cross.
My favorite was from a first grade student named Nicholas, who simply said, "Thank you for keeping us safe."
South Constellation Drive