Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:
The Greensboro News & Record on Veterans Day:
On the 11th day of the 11th month we honor our veterans.
This federal holiday began as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.
Said President Woodrow Wilson in his proclamation in November 1919:
“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations. …”
This federal holiday officially became what we now know as Veterans Day in 1954, by proclamation of one of the most famous American veterans, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Yet, in the era of a volunteer military, fewer and fewer Americans know firsthand the depth of commitment and sacrifice it takes to serve.
So we owe it to our veterans to express our gratitude today because they so richly deserve it, not because the calendar says so.
From its roots in 1919, this day was intended as a time for parades and public gatherings.
That’s not so easy to do in 2020.
Like many activities this year, thanks to the coronavirus, Veterans Day observations are likely to be more subdued.
But that doesn’t mean that everyone shouldn’t take at least a few moments to reflect upon the veterans among us, in their millions, who risked their safety and security for ours. Whether they are the dwindling remnant of forces that went abroad to fight in World War II or recently returned warriors from Afghanistan or Syria, they deserve our respect and our appreciation.
And there still will be a few opportunities for public appreciation. An 11 a.m. virtual ceremony at the Carolina Field of Honor in Kernersville can be viewed at www.highpoint.edu/live. Featured speakers include retired three-star Gen. Robert VanAntwerp.
Following safety protocols helps veterans, among others, some of whom are now among our most vulnerable populations.
Military service calls dedicated men and women from all walks of life in America — and some from other countries — who serve regardless of race, religion, gender or economic circumstances. They teach us that those superficial characteristics don’t matter when we’re united for a worthy cause.
Though they give their all, America has not always given enough in return.
Veterans returning from war often bear the scars, physical, emotional and mental, of witnessing the worst depravity of mankind. Adjusting to civilian life can be difficult. Though the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VFW and volunteer groups offer resources, too many of our veterans have wound up unemployed, on the streets or as victims of the opioid crisis that continues to ravage our communities.
Veterans also face higher levels of suicide than the general public. Approximately 17 U.S. veterans die by suicide every day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The causes vary, but they include depression and other mental health challenges.
The threat of COVID-19 doesn’t help.
Although today is set aside to honor our veterans, let’s keep them in mind at other times as well. According to Cyndi Briggs, the creator of the Soldiers’ Heart Oral History Project and Podcast (www.soldiersheartnc.com), we can honor them by listening: “Every veteran I’ve interviewed (100+) appreciated the opportunity to tell their story. Giving someone the space to share what is true for them is the greatest gift we can give.”
Organizations such as the Honor Flight Network, Operation Gratitude and the Wounded Warrior Project work hard for our veterans year-round. They’re worthy of our support.
So, on this 11th day of the 11th month — and beyond — let’s show these American heroes, not simply tell them, how thankful we are.
Winston Salem-Journal on Democrat Joe Biden defeating President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States:
Late Saturday morning, while some tried to distract themselves from the drama of three days of waiting by taking a walk or playing golf, former Vice President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was declared the 46th president of the United States.
With 99% of the votes from Pennsylvania counted, Biden exceeded the required 270 Electoral College votes handily — the total may eventually surpass 290 — and as we went to press, a popular vote just short of 75 million had been tallied, a historic record and some 4 million more than his opponent.
In a statement on Saturday afternoon, Biden said he was humbled by the victory and called for healing and unity: “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”
At 77, Biden is the oldest person to be elected American president.
The election of Kamala Harris, a California senator and former prosecutor, as Biden’s vice president is also historic. The daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, she’s the first woman, the first Black woman and the first person of South Asian descent to become vice president. Her election perhaps reflects a more accurate picture of the make-up of the country.
And her experience and intellect make her a force with which to reckon.
In the hours following the announcement, cheers and celebrations erupted throughout the country. Crowds gathered in New York City, Philadelphia and Atlanta, as well as outside of the White House. And though there was some pushing and shoving, there were also moments that were more thoughtful, as when supporters of both Biden and his predecessor joined in prayer, and more celebratory, as thousands danced in the streets.
Wall Street held firm.
The emphasis of Biden’s campaign was on decency and cooperation. Through 47 years of public service, Biden has been praised by Republicans and Democrats alike. His cheerful manner and optimism, shaped by his faith and burnished through well-known personal tragedies, will serve him well if he can maintain them. The challenges he faces now will surely put him to the test.
Biden inherits from his predecessor a nation that has been sharply divided by political partisanship, by fear and friction, by racial enmity, by a troubling but popular buy-in of misinformation and conspiracy thinking that serves and represents our nation poorly.
He inherits a nation that’s currently plagued by a raging pandemic, with growing numbers of Americans being infected and dying every day; and by an accompanying economic crisis, leading to food lines, job loss and evictions throughout the country.
He inherits a government as divided as the country; a civil service that has been purposely decimated by loyalists who thought it unimportant to retain a nonpartisan work force informed by scientific and economic expertise; and a nation sorely in need of compassionate immigration reform. He inherits a world in which U.S. leadership has been diminished and allies wonder about our reliability.
As he seeks to heal the nation, he’ll meet strong opposition.
We ask all Americans to unite at least this far: in wishing and praying for the good health of the president of the United States as he seeks to lead the American people in such a way that we all can prosper together.
As we write, our current president is proving to be ungracious. We’ll have more to say about him later this week. For now, the day belongs to Biden, Harris and the American people.
The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer on President Donald Trump claiming that he won the election:
Let’s try one more time:
Early Thursday evening, President Donald Trump stood before the White House press corps, as well as cameras broadcasting to the nation, and delivered the most dangerous remarks of his presidency. He said states were “finding ballots” in an effort to steal the election from him. He said: “If you count the legal votes, I win.”
He also said of our state: “We were ahead in votes in North Carolina by a lot, a tremendous number of votes, and we’re still ahead by a lot, but not as many because they’re finding ballots all of a sudden.”
None of this is true. The President of the United States is, without evidence, trying to undermine a legitimate election. It is a perilous moment for our country.
Republicans leaders in Washington, however, appear not to be alarmed. With the notable exceptions of Republican Sen. Mitt Romney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — who this week called Trump’s election claims “very dangerous for the democracy” — GOP members of Congress have largely been quiet. Those who did speak up mostly delivered mousy statements that called for “legal” votes to be counted but didn’t mention the president’s remarks.
So let’s try again. This board has regularly called on North Carolina’s Republican leaders to stand up to the worst of Donald Trump. Now, each one needs to firmly denounce the president’s election falsehoods. That’s especially true of our U.S. senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, whose voices would be the most impactful.
We admit we’re not hopeful, especially about Sen. Tillis, who time and again has declined opportunities to stand up to the president and speak up for the people he’s supposed to serve. Tillis, who spent a lot of the last month talking about honor and country when it came to his opponent, showed little of it himself Thursday. A relentless tweeter when his job was on the line, Tillis stopped typing when something larger was at stake, instead having a spokesperson timidly tell a Charlotte TV reporter: “As he has said before, Senator Tillis has confidence in the absentee ballot process. He believes every legal vote should be counted, and that when they are, both he and President Trump will carry North Carolina.”
One N.C. Republican did speak up, but that was NC-09 Rep. Dan Bishop, who shamefully parroted the president’s falsehoods. “Trump’s points are persuasive: concerted use of fraudulent polls; stunning and implausible ballot dumps overnight; observers barred. Fight!” Bishop tweeted.
Here’s why it matters: The president’s remarks this week weren’t merely the final squeaks from a shrinking balloon. They may be laying the foundation for an attempt to stay in office despite Joe Biden winning the Electoral College vote. Trump’s surrogates have called for a do-over election in Pennsylvania and urged Republicans there to override the results. His son, Donald Jr., urged the president to wage “total war over the election.” It should no longer be inconceivable to anyone that Trump might attempt to use bogus claims of fraud and shunned poll observers to nullify his defeat.
Those claims also risk inciting violence. Election officials across the country have fretted about the safety of vote counters as armed Trump supporters stood outside election centers, and late Thursday, Philadelphia police took two heavily armed men into custody outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where votes were being counted. Police said they were notified of a threat of an attack.
North Carolinians should let GOP leadership know how alarmed they are by the president’s ranting. Donald Trump has defiled and denigrated cherished traditions and institutions throughout his presidency, but nothing strikes at the heart of America like the president questioning the integrity of legally cast votes. Republicans in Washington need to stand up to this attack on the election — and on our country.