That Girl’s Blog: An Overdue Thank You To The Coast Guard

This morning I was going to make a post about the beautiful chili that we made last night. There were bright red fresh tomatoes, big fat bell peppers, crisp sweet onions and tons of beef with just the right amount of slow burn heat from a single fresh jalapeno pepper….

As I was deciding which picture to use to display our hearty meal, a post appeared in my news feed from a new friend of mine. Her husband is a member of the Coast Guard here on the Cape.

I am not going to use her name, but I want to share some of her words:

“I can’t remember the last time I ate canned vegetables, but tonight I was grateful for the meal I had on the table, and that it was provided to me by an amazing organization.”

Her post went on to describe the difficult conversation she had to have with her children about how their Daddy didn’t get paid this month and so they will have to cut back – and by cut-back, I mean, change their entire routine for daily life.

I looked at my chili and my stomach turned.

Growing up on the Cape and living on the water, we often take our Coast Guardsmen for granted. If we are in trouble on the water, they show up and save us. They are like many of our first responders, except they have the added challenge of doing their work in the air or on the water.

When I was twelve or 13, one of my friends invited me on her family’s sail boat for a trip up to Provincetown for the annual Blessing of the Fleet. We started very early in the morning and sailed through the Cape Cod Canal and headed across the bay. All seemed fine until we were hit by a sudden band of strong thunderstorms. The sails ripped, the engine flooded and the radio barely had a signal. I remember stumbling and falling in the cabin with my friend while her father and brother tried to keep the boat from capsizing. We were soaked to the bone under our rain gear with life jackets strapped tightly to our bodies.

Hurricane warning flag at Chatham Lighthouse & Coast Guard Station

I lost track of time and I actually began to wonder if I would see my parents ever again. The boat rolled back and forth. The sides of the cabin became the floor or the ceiling and water rushed through the cabin with every shift in direction. Finally, I recall hearing someone shout: “They are here! Get the kids!”

We were pulled from the cabin of the rocking sailboat. Without even time to think, we were lifted onto a Coast Guard boat. We were cold and wet and scared to death.

The Coast Guard towed the disheveled sailboat into Provincetown, where newspaper photographers were snapping pictures. The image of my friend’s older brother on the bow of the sailboat with shredded sails blowing behind him made the cover of one of the Boston newspapers. In hindsight, it should have been a picture of the brave men who saved us.

I hope I said thank you, but more likely, I was apologizing for throwing up on the deck of their boat from seasickness. Just in case, and I know it’s overdue: Thank you for saving our lives.

I can only imagine the queasy feeling that so many people in our community are feeling right now. Every time they go to the mailbox or open an email from a utility company. I wish I could look into the future to see some good news to share with the families in our community who are struggling right now.

No, I can’t see the future. I can, however, share a little hope: We live in the best community in the country. In times of need, we band together and help our neighbors when they need comfort and support.

If you would like to help, please contact your local food bank or simply make a donation. Organizations like Heroes In Transition, the MSPCA and the Nicholas G Xiarhos Foundation are collecting items to help these families, while many of the Cape police departments are collecting “Cards for the Guard” (gift cards for groceries and gas in $20 increments).

Asking for help is difficult. Please remember, that our Coast Guard members are not the only ones going without pay right now. Be vigilant – if you know someone struggling, please reach out to them.

About Cat Wilson

Cat Wilson is "That Girl" on Cape Country 104 – a Cape Cod native and longtime Cape radio personality. She is a passionate supporter of Military and Veteran causes on the Cape and also hosts local music spotlight program, “The Cheap Seats” on Ocean 104.7.



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