10/02/09 — Thank you: Community made its newspaper very, very proud.

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Thank you: Community made its newspaper very, very proud.

It is hard to put into words what it felt like to see so many people with so much patriotism, pride and compassion in their hearts at Thursday night's Blue Ribbon Jam.

We expected no less, not really, after the incredible response we have had to our call for a fund to be set up to honor the memory of Capt. Mark McDowell and Capt. Thomas Gramith -- the Seymour Johnson AFB pilot and weapon systems officer lost this past July in Afghanistan.

The outpouring of sympathy and gratitude, we can tell you now, was noticed and appreciated not only by the men and women who served with those two heroes, but by their families as well.

It made a definite statement that this community understands and appreciates what it takes to keep a country safe.

Thursday's jam was a chance for this community to gather and to show the men and women of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base just what they mean to us.

And, with the help of many local businesses and volunteers, we think we succeeded.

But in the process, you have humbled us, your local newspaper, which has always believed that this is one of the best communities in the state, but has been overwhelmed with just how much you care and give to those whom you count as neighbors and friends.

And we are pretty sure the leadership at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base understands and appreciates that support, too.

So thank you, from all of us at the News-Argus and the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp., for coming out last night -- and a special thank you to all those who worked so hard behind the scenes to make the Blue Ribbon Jam a reality.

Your generosity and the thanks you shared with so many of the members of the 336th Fighter Squadron and 4th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Mark Kelly last night meant more than you will ever know.

But in the end, the evening was about the memory of two men, Capt. Mark McDowell and Capt. Thomas Gramith.

Their loss will forever be on the minds of not only those who serve their country at Seymour Johnson AFB, but in the hearts of the community that felt the impact of their loss so deeply.

We pledge to never, ever forget that behind all the foreign policy and war plans are real men and women with families who dedicate their lives to carrying out the mission.

We know, firsthand, that freedom isn't free. And we will make sure others never forget it either.

Published in Editorials on October 2, 2009 11:11 AM