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Editorial – Their service is constant

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away. I now close my military career and just fade away.”
ó Gen. Douglas MacArthur
Address to Congress, 1951
More than 26,000 veterans live in Rowan and Cabarrus counties, quietly going about their civilian lives, many seldom mentioning their service to the country. Outwardly, that part of them seems to have faded away. Today the community pauses to honor those men and women.
A photo in the Post’s files shows what looks like squadrons of veterans marching down Main Street during an Armistice Day parade in the 1920s. People crowd behind their parked Packards and Fords to watch. Little boys on the sidewalk are wearing knickers, and a sign at the Victory Theater advertises movies for 25 cents.
A lot has changed since then. Armistice Day became Veterans Day. Knickers are a thing of the past, and if you can find a movie for 25 cents, we want to know about it.
But some things endure, some things are constant ó duty, honor, service to country. The risks taken on by people in the armed services are huge. Spend some time looking at the field of white crosses at the National Cemetery, and you’ll get a glimpse of what that can mean. Their sacrifice has shaped our world.
“Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men,” Gen. George S. Patton told troops in October 1942. “It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory.”
These are strange times. On the one hand, Flights of Honor are giving veterans free trips to see the World War II Memorial in Washington in a long overdue show of appreciation. On the other, the shootings at Fort Hood show that soldiers can face unknown threats from within. And those shipped off to Iraq and Afghanistan find themselves in conflicts not fully embraced back home ó or fully understood. Will they get the honor and thanks they deserve when they come home?
Many thanks to the men and women who have won the wars and kept the peace ó who signed on to do whatever their country asked. Gratitude for your service is also one of our constants, gratitude that is ingrained in small children and felt deeply by adults. Thank you for your service to our country.

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