On Feb. 11, 2006, in Iraq, I was honored to meet a model Marine by the name of Cpl. David Stidman. He did two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Commendably, he also left his post to come home and care for his ailing father, Dwayne Stidman, who tragically was hit and critically wounded by a drunken driver last May.
Three months later, on Aug. 2, 2010, Cpl. Stidman was killed. Not on the battlefields of the Middle East, but on his home streets of Texas while still caring for his father and family. And not by a drive-by shooter, but by another drunken driver. Cpl. Stidman was killed on his motorcycle while completely stopped at a stoplight just miles from home.
To add insult to injury, David's killer had not one but two prior driving-while-intoxicated violations. The driver had been released repeatedly from his criminal charges and allowed to drive because of the lack of strict laws and enforcement by our liberal court systems.
(To read Dwayne's story about his son's service and heroism to both his country and family, go to http://www.DavidStidman.com/biography.html.)
Words cannot express the depths of what my wife, Gena, and I felt when reading David's story. He was truly the epitome of the best our country creates. God only knows the lives he saved through his service to our country.
And even now, in his passing, his father, Dwayne, is fighting with him to save even more lives by reducing the number of drunken drivers and repeat offenders on America's roads.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, here are three sobering statistics:
--In 2009, 10,839 people died in drunken driving crashes -- one every 50 minutes.
--One in 3 people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point.
--An average drunken driver has driven while drunk 87 times before his first arrest.
During this holiday break, with New Year's parties moving fast on the horizon, there's no better time to join the fight against drunken drivers. Here's what you can do.
First, check out MADD's website, which shows how safe the roads are in your state; you may be shocked. The site also gives some action keys so that you can help to make those roads safer.
Second, if you're a sober driver on the road over the holidays, please be very careful as you travel. At all times of the day, keep an eye out on those in your total range of vision, including in your vehicle's blind spots.
Third, don't be naive or dumb; don't drink and drive. And don't even think you can. A one-time mistake could cost you the rest of your life, as well as take the life of another.