A Heart Like His
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I first learned about the United States Life-Saving Service years ago on a family vacation. We got to see a life-saving station that had been preserved at a strategic point along the Atlantic coastline. There used to be many of them. In some areas, they were every seven miles along the coast. Each one was staffed by a seven-man crew. They were heroes in every sense of the word! When a ship was in distress near their assigned area, they'd go out into the surf, or the storm, even the hurricane to try to rescue the people on board. They lived their motto: "You have to go out. You don't have to come back." They saved countless lives who otherwise would have been lost.
But it was only recently that I learned how this heroism all began. William Newell was a medical doctor, and he was at the New Jersey Shore at a place called Barnegat the day after a ship had gone down during an overnight storm. He was at the beach as the bodies of 13 crewmen washed ashore. He said, "Here I was, a man who spent his life trying to save lives. And here was a situation where I was absolutely powerless to do anything to help them. Something's got to be done about this." Something was. A few years later, Dr. Newell was Congressman Newell; in a position to make a difference. He led the effort to birth the United States Life-Saving Service. It started with a few life-saving stations in New Jersey, and then it quickly spread all along the Atlantic Coast because of one man's heart for those who were being lost.