Home at last: A great day for South Jersey
By AL D'IMPERIO
For the Courier-Post
What a great day Jan. 20 was for South Jersey. It was the day it was announced that the USS New Jersey is coming home for good. This is a good omen for the people of New Jersey.
I would like to thank Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, R-Monmouth, for being so gracious in losing the ship to South Jersey. I have been very tough on Azzolina, the chairman of the USS New Jersey Battleship Commission, but he has shown class in congratulating South Jersey. I am also pleased he is being included in future plans for the battleship; he has earned that respect.
Assemblyman Joseph Doria, D-Hudson, who is also the mayor of Bayonne, is a different case. He has shown himself to be a poor loser with his sour-grapes criticism of the Navy's decision, saying it was due to politics. He would be more respected if he said he lost the good fight, but the decision by the Navy was fair.
The politicians of South Jersey showed the whole country how people can put their differences aside and work together for a common cause.
One of my favorite politicians is Camden County Freeholder Pat Jones. I have never met her, but I have been reading about her and seeing pictures of her in the Courier-Post. She comes across to me as being a fighter if she thinks the cause is right. I believe listening to people or reading about what they say gives a good idea of what that person is all about. I'll never forget the picture the Courier-Post ran of her at the Panama Canal. That was a genuine smile of happiness in watching the USS New Jersey. Hey, Mrs. Jones, have you ever thought of running for governor?
Retired Navy Rear Adm. Thomas Seigenthaler and retired Capt. David McGuigan are well versed in handling ships. I had the pleasure of being introduced to Rear Adm. Seigenthaler when he was the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard commander and I worked down at the shipyard. Capt. McGuigan was the head of planning and estimating at the Philadelphia Naval Base and is well versed in how much money will be needed for the USS New Jersey. I wasn't at all surprised at his superior application to the Navy. As a shipyard supervisor, I read many of his writings.
The USS New Jersey coming back to New Jersey helps to take some of the hurt away from the closing of our beloved shipyard. When I heard the news that the "Big J" was staying in South Jersey, I was in a state of excitement. I called my son right away and told him, as he was a foreman pipefitter at the shipyard.
This was a great day for the men who worked and served on the battleship. We should not forget the sailors who died fighting on the ship, or the workers who died from asbestos working at the shipyard. They are all in heaven looking down at the USS New Jersey and smiling. Do you think divine intervention had something to do with the USS New Jersey staying in Camden?
The writer, who lives in Mantua, is a frequent contributor to the Letters To The Editor section.