There were plenty of opinions in 2020. Should the president be impeached? Should we shut down the economy? How do we make Black lives matter? Should we replace a U.S. Supreme Court justice in the twilight of a president’s term? And we published hundreds of views on those issues and others. We’ve picked some of our favorites from a very tumultuous year. Just click the headline to read the entire piece.
By Pamela Addison
“Don’t be afraid of Covid.”
Those are five of the most thoughtless, insensitive and painful words I have ever read in my life. How could you say such a thing when over 200,000 Americans have tragically lost their lives to this devastating and deadly virus? How many people are grieving the loss of a loved one like I am, only to have those five words reopen our wounds that we are still trying to heal from?
My healthy and heroic husband was only 44 years old at the time of his death. For over a month he fought hard trying to beat COVID-19 so he could come home to us. However, on April 29th his long and courageous battle ended.
Pamela Addison’s husband Martin died of COVID-19 in April at the age of 44. She lives with her children in Waldwick.
By Emily K. Damuth
As an intensive care physician during the coronavirus pandemic, my most impactful moments have occurred while holding a phone. Healthcare visitor restriction has fundamentally changed the way physicians and nurses communicate with families.
After spending weeks caring for critically ill patients, I realized that while medical updates are helpful, families are most desperate to see and be near their loved ones. Sitting in the void of their living rooms, families lose the context and reassurance they would typically gain by being at the bedside of loved ones in the intensive care unit (ICU). Their questions for doctors now stray from organ function and clinical status to whether he’s awake? Is he scared? Can I talk to him?
Emily K. Damuth, MD, is a critical care intensivist at Cooper University Health Care in Camden.
By Christine Todd Whitman
Around the country, the American public is faced with the reality that yet again, a woman will not achieve the presidency this election cycle. When examining why a woman has yet to obtain the highest office of the land, we need to acknowledge the role that money plays in politics. Women are hampered in the political sphere because they have access to fewer financial resources than their male counterparts. But women’s greatest strength is that we are comfortable not doing it all on our own, and I am hopeful that collaboration will allow a woman candidate to break the glass ceiling and achieve the presidency.
I’ve experienced first-hand the challenges of campaign fundraising as a woman. In my 1990 campaign for the United States Senate, I was running against U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, a former NBA basketball player who outspent me on the campaign trail 12:1. The Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee promised me $300,000 to help in the last few days before the election, which I hoped to spend on ads. But less than 10 days before the election, the committee pulled their promised funding.
Christine Todd Whitman served as governor of New Jersey from 1994-2001 and administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 2001-2003.
By Scott White
When I was in my 20′s, I was convicted of an offense based on the false testimony of a police officer. It was not a major crime. I had been riding my bicycle to work in New York City. Just as I finished walking my bike through a pedestrian crosswalk, I got back on my bike and an officer turned around, saw me. Riding my bike toward him with a traffic light, now red, behind me. He issued me a ticket despite my explanation and said “tell it to the judge.”
In court, the officer said I raced through the red light, “pedestrians were fleeing” and he apprehended me as I fled. I began my defense when the judge cut me off mid-sentence, hit his gavel, and said “guilty,” $50.
Scott White is retired after 40 years in education. He lives in Montclair, where he was a school counselor and guidance director for 21 years.
By John Farmer Jr.
You’re driving south through the night in the time of pandemic and outrage to the limit of your world, to Cape Point where the Hatteras light sweeps arcs the color of moonlight across the darkness, out to where you hope to make the mad world pause for a few days.
The trip is familiar, as is its goal: You’re driving south hoping for stillness, even for a moment, to silence the clutter and the white noise of your life, for a place of peace. You’ve counted on this, for four decades. But this year is different, freighted with the fear of illness and death and isolation and the heaviness of your grief for lost family and friends, for so many lost to pandemics and circumstance. This year, as much as you may need peace, you may not find it.
John Farmer, Jr. is a Professor of Law and the director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
By Lisa Martucci-Thibault
“I’m not ready,” I confessed to my husband when the early pregnancy test indicated I was carrying a tiny embryo. He had heard me say that repeatedly over the past decade and laughed. Then, I picked up the phone to tell my mother, patiently hoping for this news since my wedding.
She was hardly subtle when I broke the news, “Oh Lisa, this is the best thing you will ever do, I know you will be a wonderful mother and you will love raising a child!”
On Mother’s Day 20 years ago, she was in the room with us as we welcomed our daughter Emily into the world. In fact, as she would often recount, Mom was the first family member to see Emily’s face and I will never forget her reaction: sheer joy. That moment in time — three generations together for the first time, exhausted, and overcome with emotion — is conjured up in my memory every Mother’s Day.
Lisa Martucci-Thibault lives in Hightstown and serves as a public affairs manager when not caring for her aging father and college sophomore whose campus closed due to COVID-19.
By Christine Clark Zemla
I never knew Emmett Till. Not his mischievous smile, or his fun-loving, fearless attitude, or the stutter when he got nervous. I was just a young white girl growing up in New Jersey when the Black 14-year-old from Chicago went to visit family in the Deep South in 1955.
Though I never knew him, I can vividly recall the first time I heard his name. I had just returned to college, almost two decades older than most of my classmates, when in one of my first classes I watched “Eyes on the Prize: Awakenings.” The film served as quite an awakening for me!
Christine Clark Zemla is a professor in the Department of American Studies and creator of the “Remembering Emmett Till” course at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.
By Alice Roberts
After catching COVID-19 that required a brief stay in the hospital, President Trump blithely said, “Don’t let it take over your lives.”
It’s much too late for that, of course. For my family and me, it took over our lives when it took my husband, Rob.
Rob was a beloved police officer and likely contracted COVID-19 while working an overtime shift, like he often did, to help support our family of three kids, two geckos, a dog, a cat and two hamsters. Many shifts were open in his department because his colleagues were becoming sick with the virus. By April, eight of them tested positive out of a department of about 24 people.
Alice Roberts is the widow of Charles “Rob” Roberts who died from COVID-19 at the age of 45. Mr. Roberts’ death was the first line of duty death in the Glen Ridge Police Department’s history.
By Jarrett Paul
I am who I am. I am a young Black adult in America. I did not choose to be Black. I did not ask to be Black. I am Black and that’s my superpower. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d still choose to be Black regardless of the circumstances. Because being Black means living unapologetically. It means having a heart so pure that the hardships of our history cannot harden our hearts. Black is beautiful.
Being young and Black in America also means you have to listen to your parents tell you how to react if you ever have an encounter with police because they don’t want the wrong gesture causing their child to not come home. It means even though you’ve never had any trouble with the law you still feel uncomfortable when the police are around. Freddie Gray lost his life because he made eye contact with an officer.
Jarrett Paul, a rising junior, is a free safety on the Rutgers football team, the Scarlet Knights. Paul is also a graduate of Paramus Catholic High School.
By Frank Augello
“You were so excited to hug me that I easily could’ve stolen your wallet,” Alex Trebek quipped with a smirk as he walked away from me after our photo op on the set of Jeopardy!
On the tape day of my appearance as a contestant, the longtime host playfully poked fun at how I was noticeably focused on being arm in arm with the man I’d been watching and learning from literally my entire life, the valuables in my dress pants pockets far from my mind. This jokier side of Trebek is the rare treat that contestants and members of the live studio audiences on tape days get to experience.
Frank Augello is a biomedical engineer and a former Jeopardy! contestant from Cedar Knolls.
By Krystal Seruya
Two years ago this week, former Gov. Chris Christie announced the closure of two of New Jersey’s youth prisons. Two years later, they remain open. Based on my personal experience, this is unacceptable.
I was what they call a dual-system kid. In the world of youth justice, that means I spent time in both a youth detention center and foster care. As you can imagine, it wasn’t an easy journey from those dark days to my life today as a 26-year-old full-time social worker.
Krystal Seruya is a family preservation specialist for Youth Advocate Programs Inc. and heads up the New Jersey Institute for Justice’s Youth Councils.
By Brian Ford
When the New Jersey Bishops released their list of credibly accused sex offenders, the priest who celebrated my father’s funeral Mass was on it.
Not that I felt particularly upset by this revelation. Decades ago, I’d relinquished any affiliation with my childhood Catholicism and nothing I’d seen since had made me regret my decision. Nor did I imagine that my father would have been outraged that this corrupt “padre,” as he’d have called him, had presided at his service. If anything, it might have amused him.
Brian Ford lives in Metuchen.
By Richard Rivera
Police unions in New Jersey have always made it clear that they oppose police transparency. Now, with widespread support for transforming the role of police, their closed ranks have tightened.
We know that New Jerseyans overwhelmingly want these changes. But we also know it will take work from all of us to get there – work that we know is necessary.
I know this because I was a West New York police officer in 1991, when New Jersey’s first statewide Internal Affairs Policy called for all departments to establish units investigating officer misconduct.
Richard Rivera is the former chairperson of the New Jersey State Human Relations Council. He is a police practices expert witness and a co-founder of the National Coalition of Latino Officers where he is director of equal employment opportunity complaints.
By George Ajjan
In recent weeks, three top universities decided to rescind offers made to graduates of Morristown-Beard, an elite North Jersey private school. Two of the students used the “N-word” in a Snapchat video, while a third made a Tik-Tok video that made appeared to mock slavery.
With an obvious eye on their wrecked futures, the students were quick to offer platitudes about how “one word does not define me.” But few of us would buy this fake contrition. We hasten to condemn and even ostracize them because we don’t like the unpleasant thought that they belong to our communities. We don’t want to be associated with outwardly racist attitudes because we’re not bad people, after all.
George Ajjan is a political strategist and former Republican candidate for Congress in the 8th Congressional District.
By Mark Broadhurst
We both had something to do with the death of my oldest child, my son Josh, on December 6, 2019.
“How,” you ask?
Because like me, either now or at some point in your life, you passed judgment on someone – or everyone – who used drugs. And that shame you helped perpetuate? It can kill. It prevents the addicted from raising their hand to get help.
Mark Broadhurst and his wife Maria live in Long Valley and are the founders of Joshua’s Peace, which is dedicated to honoring the compassionate heart of their son Josh by helping others struggling with the disease of addiction.
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