North Carolina editorial roundup
Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:
The Fayetteville Observer on D-Day:
We tend to pay more attention to, and view as more significant, those anniversaries that happen to fall on years ending in zero — 10 years of marriage — or the silver and gold milestones — 50 years since the Moon landing.
This week, generations of Americans and Europeans be paying closer attention to a particular 75th anniversary of events that changed the course of human history: The D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944.
Is the 75th any more reason to mark an occasion than, say, last year’s 74th or next year’s 76th? Not really. But what is significant is that each passing year, there are fewer among us who were there, who fought in this Second World War and bore witness to this dark chapter in our nation’s history. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, fewer than 500,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II were still alive in 2018. An estimated 348 die each day.
D-Day marked a turning point in the war. In the early hours, more than 160,000 troops from the Allied nations boarded more than 5,000 vessels and landing craft that ferried them to the heavily fortified beaches of France. More than 300 C-47s carrying 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers descended over land. Nearly 2,500 U.S. troops died the first day; more than 9,000 total Allied soldiers were killed or wounded. Those who survived the assault were in for a long and treacherous journey that would not end until the surrender of Germany almost a year later.
Memories fade over time. With distance, we lose an emotional connection. But on Thursday’s 75th anniversary of D-Day, and every year to follow, we can never forget the men who gave their lives to literally save the world.
President Franklin Roosevelt told the nation about D-Day on the radio. He choose to do it by prayer. In reading his words today, one can sense the uncertainty of what was to come, and the gravity of what was at stake:
“My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.
“And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
“Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
“They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
“They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
“For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
“Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
“And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice... .
“Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces. And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
“And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee, faith in our sons, faith in each other, faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters, of but fleeting moment, let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.
“With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
“Thy will be done, Almighty God.
The Charlotte Observer on a high school football coach:
How much money is too much for a high school football coach? North Carolina’s second largest school district has provided something of an answer.
Last month, Vance High School coach Aaron Brand cashed in on a successful five-year run in Charlotte and accepted a coaching job at Irmo High School in Columbia. Brand will be earning $100,000, nearly twice as much as he made at Vance, and his position at Irmo will reportedly include no teaching duties. It is, as Brand told the Observer’s Langston Wertz, a “golden opportunity,” and the talented coach should be congratulated. But it’s also money Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is unable or unwilling to pay. That, too, is good.
Brand’s move has renewed a lingering discussion about successful high school coaches leaving Charlotte for high-paying positions in South Carolina or at smaller, in-state schools. The same has happened at schools across North Carolina, perhaps no more famously than with former Independence High School coach Tom Knotts, who won six state titles at the school before heading across the border to coach at Dutch Fork (S.C.) High School.
Knotts is among the coaches who spoke with Wertz last week about how CMS can hold onto its best football talent. “If they value football,” Knotts said, “they need to pay coaches what’s comparable to surrounding areas of pay.”
But should they? Football and other athletics play a valuable role in the high school experience, and as Wertz thoughtfully noted, “sports is the ultimate drop-out prevention program.” Coaches also point to colleges like University of Alabama, which pays football coach Nick Saban more than $8 million a year and has seen a surge in enrollment and other benefits from success on the football field.
But public high schools don’t see a flood of new students because of football success, and it’s incongruous to pay the coach of an all-boys team twice as much as girls’ coaches, let alone other teachers and arts program leaders. We think all teachers should be paid more, including coaches. Certainly, individual districts should consider if and how to reward athletic success, and if a team makes a deep playoff run, schools should compensate coaches for at least part of the extra time they put in. Some suggest that CMS also could pay coaches more by allowing them to also be athletic directors, but it’s a bit of a minefield to give one coach control over other coaches’ budgets.
The reality is that there’s little CMS can do to compete with a South Carolina school that’s waving around serious cash. Another reality: The way it works now is working. Young coaches are taking advantage of opportunities and building strong programs that compete for state titles. If that means urban districts are a training ground for deep-pocketed South Carolina schools, so be it. High school coaches should benefit from the free market, too.
But CMS, at least, shouldn’t to try to compete. Football, like other sports, is a memorable and worthy part of students’ high school years. But whatever misguided sensibilities exist across the state line, football should not be an outsized priority here.
Winston-Salem Journal on the Virginia Beach shooting:
It happened again.
We knew it would; it was just a matter of time.
On Friday, a longtime city employee opened fire inside a municipal building in the city of Virginia Beach with a legal handgun, fatally injuring 12 people before police shot and killed him. Four others were wounded, including a police officer who was saved by his bullet-proof vest.
It was “the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach,” Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer said.
“Nothing like this happens in Virginia Beach,” resident Cheryl Benn said.” By and large, it’s a pretty calm and peaceful place to live.”
We could say the same here.
No motive is known at this time. If the shooter had any distinguishing trait, it was that he seemed so normal.
After the shooting, while speaking to the press, Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera spoke the name of the shooter, and then said he would never do so again.
We approve of that decision. News organizations have a responsibility to report facts — not to glorify anyone, nor to vilify anyone, but because they’re facts — but on this page, we will not use the killer’s name. Let it be forgotten, along with the names of the other mass shooters who succeeded in their missions of creating havoc and dealing death. If they sought fame, the least we can do is deny it.
Once again we have to note that this is a uniquely American problem. These types of mass shootings, in schools, in public buildings, in restaurants, movie theaters and nightclubs, rarely happen in other advanced countries.
Here, they occur again and again as our political leaders shrug their shoulders and offer “thoughts and prayers” and the public throws around theories that align with previously held political leanings. Lather, rinse, repeat.
May we, finally, do something different?
We need to study gun violence now more than ever, Dr. Gabriela Maradiaga Panayotti, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Duke Children’s Hospital, recently wrote in a Charlotte Observer guest column. Earlier this year she joined 300 pediatricians who marched on Capitol Hill in hopes of bringing attention to the issue.
“Many seem surprised when pediatricians talk about gun violence as a public health issue,” Panayotti wrote. “As pediatricians, we strive to promote the health and well-being of children. It is through our research and advocacy that lives have been saved...”
Members of her group met with Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, asking for $50 million in funding for gun violence prevention in the Senate appropriations bill.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown interest in studying the problem for decades, but congressional leaders have steadily applied the brakes for what can only be political reasons — threats from the NRA.
Earlier this year, House Democrats allocated $50 million to study gun violence — $25 million to CDC and $25 million to the National Institutes of Health.
The Senate has yet to take up the cause.
That’s where the rest of us can take action — by putting pressure on our congressional leaders.
If a disease were killing people like this, we would research the hell out of it. CDC and NIH should be given every resource, every dollar necessary, to find an answer to this public health crisis.
We don’t know how many more victims there will be, but we know there will be more — especially if we refuse to take action.
And none of us are immune from it. Anywhere.