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2021, in Globe readers’ own words

Globe Staff Illustration; Kruwt/Adobe; tomas/Adobe; Adam Glanzman/Getty; Chang W. Lee/The New York Times; Gregory Bull/AP; lovelyday12/Adobe; Charles Krupa/AP; Jose Luis Magana/AP

If 2020 felt like a year like no other, then 2021 felt like more of the same. One step forward and two steps back, or vice versa? It depended on the day. We saw vaccines rolled out, then resisted. Bitter partisanship kept its grip on our politics. Still, we witnessed history made in the Boston mayoral race and bold stands taken for mental health at the pinnacle of physical achievement: the Olympics. Oh, and Tom Brady returned to Foxborough — on the visiting team. Here is an edited sampling of the year as seen through letters to the editor.

— Matthew Bernstein, letters editor


JANUARY: The Capitol besieged

For the last four years, Americans have been in an abusive relationship with the president. We have been lied to, gaslighted, and, on Wednesday, physically attacked. As in so many cases of domestic violence, whether the victim will press charges against the abuser is in question. Congress needs to press charges against this abuser, preferably with an impeachment that will stop him from running for reelection in 2024. If the president is allowed to simply fade away, he will be back — and the American people once more will be on the losing end of a deplorable relationship. (Jan. 9)

Candi Crowe

FEBRUARY: Vaccine rollout stumbles

Questions that arose while repeatedly hitting the refresh button during my journey to get a vaccination slot through the state website on Thursday from 8 a.m. until 1:40 p.m.: Why didn’t the state organize us into smaller groups so that we didn’t keep crashing a system that was obviously incapable of meeting the needs of our 65+ age group? Why didn’t the state implement a virtual waiting room (the Red Sox figured this out years ago)? Why did the state set up a system that made me compete with my peers? Why did I have to fill out information only to be told the slots were no longer available? Why did this task need the attention of two computer-savvy adults, each with our own computer (and jobs), that compelled us each to spend more than five hours setting up two appointments? Who did I pass in line who needs the vaccine more than I do? How does engaging in this process support a caring state community? (Feb. 20)


Elka Kuhlman

MARCH: Friday night lights meets hate speech

I am Jewish. So when I heard that the beloved, long-term, championship-winning Duxbury football coach, Dave Maimaron, was fired over the use of, among other things, concentration-camp-audibles, my first thought was, “Oh no. Those poor Jewish kids at Duxbury High.” I cringe over what I fear might be in store for them: stares, whispers. Maybe worse. In the hierarchy of high schools and the towns that love them, is anything more powerful than a championship football team? We are about to find out. (March 27)

Margie Boone

APRIL: Cries for police reform

I agree that a different model of policing would reduce the number of incidents such as that of Army Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario in Windsor, Va. But if that change in training and attitude happens, it will be a long time before there is any effect on police behavior. A quicker way to modify policing for better, safer outcomes may be to eliminate vehicle stops for minor non-moving violations, including equipment failures such as broken taillights, burned-out headlights or brake lights, and unilluminated rear license plates. Only about 2 percent of these stops result in arrests for more serious violations, and the drivers pulled over tend to be disproportionately Black. Eliminating these stops would substantially reduce the opportunity for tragedies to occur when police interaction with civilians results in the use of force. (April 20)


Raymond Dougan

MAY: Liz Cheney stands out

As a die-hard progressive and Democrat, it’s difficult to even say the words. But here goes: Three cheers for US Representative Liz Cheney. Yes, as you note in your editorial, the Wyoming Republican is “pro-gun, pro-coal, anti-tax,” and a foreign policy hawk. She’s about as conservative as they get. But she won’t sell her soul to remain in power, as so many of her GOP colleagues are willing to do, and she continues to boldly and forcefully speak out against Donald Trump’s big election lie. Cheney may lose her leadership position in the House and even her seat. But she’s worthy of a Profile in Courage award. Policy disagreements are one thing. The Republican Party’s knowing perpetuation of an appalling lie threatens democracy itself. (May 10)

Gil Hoy

JUNE: Alarming rise in drownings

In your front-page story on the surge in drownings, we learn that “nearly 80 percent of children in families with household income less than $50,000 have no or low swimming ability.” In addition, drowning death rates for Black children ages 10-14 are 3.6 times higher than for white children. As a lifesaving skill, swimming competence must become a mandatory part of school physical education. Schools can partner with YMCAs and other public and private clubs to access pools. It is shameful that a hot day and a cool pond can kill children based on how much money their parents make. (June 29)


Robin Herman

JULY: Rise of the Moors in highway standoff

The peaceful resolution of the potentially explosive incident that occurred in Wakefield on Saturday [in which an armed fringe group was stopped on the highway] was a clear victory for policing. Colonel Christopher Mason and the Massachusetts State Police and their regional partners acquitted themselves in a manner reflecting the highest ideals of professional law enforcement: preparation, skill, teamwork, and perhaps most important, restraint. Amid the crescendo of criticism that has befallen the American police service over the last few years, the incident last weekend on Interstate 95 is a reminder of what good policing is, and that most police officers are dedicated, courageous, and committed to their jobs. It is imperative that the police reform movement ensure that these officers are supported, that they are provided with quality training and competent leadership, and that they are recognized and valued for the crucial job that they do. (July 9)

Dennis Galvin

AUGUST: Mental health takes center stage at Olympics; hasty Afghanistan exit

While Simone Biles’s bold withdrawal from the Olympics is being touted as a Rosetta stone-like moment for athlete empowerment and self-preservation, I can only think of track sensation Sha’Carri Richardson, who was penalized and left off the US Olympic team for her own effort to support her mental health. The 21-year-old sprinter had just suffered the loss of her mother, and was using marijuana as a way to cope with the profuse grief she was experiencing. Richardson had the desire to compete in Tokyo but was deprived of the opportunity. She did not receive anywhere near the empathy or support that the four-time Olympic gold-medalist Biles garnered. I hope that Richardson has her Olympic moment to shine four years from now. In the meantime, Team USA owes her a heartfelt apology. (Aug. 2)


Andrew Ginsburg

I second US Representative Seth Moulton’s view that, at this point, the Kabul evacuation is nothing “short of a disaster.” As an aid worker supporting Afghan health initiatives, with extensive experience in-country between 2002 and 2014, I’m convinced that all Americans, foreign nationals, and Afghans who helped US civilian and military authorities, and who wish to leave, should be evacuated with their families. I would say to Joe Biden: Mr. President, the military is capable of executing the mission; your job is to help them. Please spare no expense, tolerate no excuse, and accept no artificial deadlines in extracting all those who need to get out. If anyone doubts that what’s happening in Kabul harms our international standing, emboldens terrorists everywhere, and undermines our national security, they’re wrong. (Aug. 26)

James M. Schermerhorn

SEPTEMBER: Fighting vaccine resistance; historic Boston mayoral race

Society routinely protects itself from dangers presented by unwise individual behavior. People who intoxicate or impair themselves in legally permissible ways are nonetheless forbidden by law from driving on public ways, despite the fact that not every intoxicated driver will cause an accident. People who might spread infection can be quarantined, whether or not they actually are diseased. This is even true regarding COVID-19, for which close contacts have been required to self-isolate. Individuals make a choice: Either they get vaccinated or, because they present an unwarranted risk to the health of others, they have their access to public venues limited, much like a quarantine. (Sept. 4)

Keith Backman

Just eight years ago, two “Irish guys” with parochial-school haircuts faced each other in the final. Not this year. The preliminary election featured five people of color running for mayor, four of them women (two of whom will face off in November). Hope is a beautiful thing. (Sept. 16)

Jack Grady

OCTOBER: Tom Brady leads the visiting team

The adulation of the Gillette Stadium crowd is the best and simplest way to commemorate Tom Brady’s return to Foxborough and end all the useless public speculation about his departure. Years from now, despite his successful career-capping stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady will be remembered as a Patriot, just like other legends whose long-term original team affiliation survived their departures at the end of their careers. (Oct. 4)

Steve Kramer

NOVEMBER: Michelle Wu elected mayor; Mass. and Cass crisis

Mayor-elect Michelle Wu and her campaign manager, Mary Lou Akai-Ferguson, along with the campaign’s paid staff, recognized and respected the local knowledge of neighborhood activists and volunteers. Sadly, this recognition and respect was lacking in many of the Boston political campaigns on which I have worked as a volunteer. While many progressive campaigns claim to be a movement, the Wu campaign transformed that claim into a reality. I have confidence that as mayor, Wu will take a similar grass-roots approach to governance, an approach that will empower Boston residents to create a more equitable and inclusive city. (Nov. 11)

Siobhan McHugh

Thank you for your account of what the clearing of their tents and belongings is causing in the lives of homeless people. Tears came to my eyes as I wondered what that would be like were I in that situation. Why couldn’t the city’s and state’s public lands be made accessible to people for camping outdoors? As a founding member of the Committee to End Elder Homelessness (now the nonprofit organization Hearth), I can recall our beginnings seeing elders pushing grocery carts containing all their possessions and sleeping in telephone booths or on church steps. My heart breaks today to see a growing unhoused population living in desperate circumstances. (Nov. 12)

Anna Bissonnette

DECEMBER: Climate challenge persists

We should all regret the demise of the TCI to reduce fossil fuel use in our regional transportation systems. Likewise, with Maine’s exclusion of transmission lines from Quebecois hydropower, we lose an easy route to low-carbon electricity, though we also avoid an injustice to the peoples of the First Nations. But rather than suffer this “one-two punch” in stoic silence, let’s get busy. We have a million homes to retrofit with electric heating systems and efficiency upgrades. We have enormous offshore wind potential, and we have untapped solar capabilities. We need to accelerate our conversion to cleaner electric vehicles, and we have the resources to make them widely affordable. More federal infrastructure money is on its way. What we need is political will. (Dec. 14)

Brent Whelan