, Newburyport, MA

February 4, 2013

A look around New England

Newburyport Daily News

---- — Excerpts from the editorials of other New England newspapers:

A major cultural shift

The decision by the Department of Defense to lift the military’s ban on women serving in combat is, at its most basic level, about equality.

Having to send Americans off to war should not be cause for celebration regardless of who is asked to do the fighting.

The fact is, women have been serving in harm’s way for years. The combat ban only served to deny full recognition for the sacrifices women already are making.

In Afghanistan, women have accompanied patrols as medics, military police or as intelligence officers to interact with local women — a situation necessitated by the culture. The female troops did so without being officially part of the combat unit.

Our recent wars have had no clear front lines, meaning even those in “support” roles may find themselves exposed to the threat of enemy fire.

Just ask the women who served in Afghanistan with the Vermont National Guard.

Despite the history of women serving alongside men in hostile territory, the change in policy represents a major cultural shift for the U.S. military.

How big? The ban on women in combat is being lifted decades after the end of official segregation in our armed forces and even after the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy that prevented gays and lesbians from revealing their sexual orientation while serving in the military.

Under the combat ban, women in the military have been shut out from more than 230,000 jobs based solely on their gender. The ban included assignments to elite combat units that have been an important step for recognition and advancement to the highest ranks.

— The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press

When TV offered role models

Perhaps there is something intangible that disappears when a figure from childhood passes away. For many who grew up in New England in the 1950s, ‘60s and early ‘70s, that figure was Rex Trailer. For nearly 20 years, the name Rex Trailer was synonymous with good-natured wholesome entertainment. The kindhearted Texas transplant appeared on television every week, and shared his Western talents and sage advice with the young’uns of the Northeast.

Many had likely lost track of Trailer, who spent his post-”Boomtown” days as an instructor at Emerson College in Boston, a producer and owner of a production company before retiring in his later years to Florida. No doubt most simply thought he had done what all cowboys do when their work is finished and rode off into the sunset.

Sadly, there is little on television today that can even begin to compare with Trailer’s brand of entertainment. The nonstop chaotic, cacophonic action of animated programming on Nickelodeon is almost the direct antithesis to Trailer’s slow, steady drawl. Similarly, the train wreck that is so-called reality television, such as “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo” and its ilk, could not be further from the homespun wisdom of Trailer.

Whereas much of the current batch of television programming seems to be designed to make us feel better about ourselves simply because we are not as horrible as the people we watch, Trailer instead lifted us up by being a worthy example. In short, he filled a position that seems sadly lacking in today’s society: that of a role model truly worth emulating.

— The Standard-Times of New Bedford