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Hearts, and minds

Let's begin by clearing up any misconceptions that might arise from this editorial about the softness of our hearts and the steel of our patriotism.

As to the first, we presented a nice check yesterday to the Fauquier Community Food Bank and Thrift Store to help support its Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for local people in need of a bit of help in celebrating the holidays.

That followed on the heels of a check we presented in summer to FISH to assist with its back-to-school program to provide backpacks and school supplies to needy Fauquier children.

The money for both donations came from subscription drives during which we promised to donate $25 from each new annual subscription for which folks signed on during the dates of the promotion.

We took a further step for the food bank, deciding to donate $12.50 for each six-month subscription, though that was not part of the deal as originally presented.

We plan to continue a program like this throughout 2013, probably raising money for a good cause on a quarterly basis, and would like to hear from other nonprofits with whom we might partner.

All this is to say that we believe in the community, we appreciate the efforts of so many to help those less fortunate, and our hearts are in the right place.

As to the second, the late Nick Arundel owned and oversaw this newspaper until his death in 2011. Listing Mr. Arundel's lifetime achievements would require many, many more column inches than this space allows, but it is a likely bet that he was no prouder of anything he had done than serving his country as a U.S. Marine.

Love of country permeates 39 Culpeper St. as much today under the continuing leadership of the Arundel family as it did during the patriarch's tenure, 1974 – 2011.

All this is a long preamble to our concern and confusion about a program getting a lot of attention as Thanksgiving approaches, one which is being heavily promoted by the Washington CBS affiliate, WUSA-9.

The station even had a telethon a few nights ago, raising money for Turkey for Troops, which intends to buy Thanksgiving food baskets for military families in the metropolitan area.

We are a little confused whether this is a program that is designed so that we can just express our appreciation for the protection of our freedom that our men and women in uniform provide, at great personal sacrifice, or whether it is something else.

“Thanksgiving dinner is an extra special time for members of the military who often cannot be with loved ones for a long time,” the station notes on its website, and there certainly is no one in this organization who would balk at showing his or her gratitude, as there is likely no one in this community who would hesitate to do likewise.

But the website goes on to note that the baskets will help “military families in need,” and that bothers us just a tad.

Are there so many military families in need that we need telethons to broadcast the problem, and, if so, why?

Certainly, given the size of our military, there are families who have made some financial mistakes. Certainly, there are families that have suffered economic setbacks beyond their control – health issues, extended family support, that sort of thing.

But it is also a near certainty that problems that require a charity drive stem from deployments that are too long and too frequent, and a pay scale that is too parsimonious.

Support our troops? You bet. Our support includes clear guidelines about deployments and a pay packet that more accurately reflects the nation's thankfulness for all they do.

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