For the common good

03 N2004P64024CLet me start by saying I really, really do not like wearing a mask.

It is more difficult to breathe. I get lipstick on the inside. It is hot and sticky, especially during the heat wave we have just experienced. I have trouble recognizing masked friends and neighbors. As Dr. Seuss said in “The Cat and the Hat,” “No, I do not like it! Not one little bit.” More than once, I have wondered how medical professionals, construction workers and others wear the darn things all day, every day.

Whining aside, I have a variety of masks — the first handmade by a dear friend, and others I have purchased. I keep masks in my pocketbook, in my car, in my waistband when I walk the new puppy by myself, and on my face if someone is walking with me. As uncomfortable as I find wearing them, I do so both for my own health and for the health of my family and close friends and the people I come into contact with but will never actually know. It is the very least I can do for my larger community during the worst pandemic in a century.

The New York Times reported last week on mask-wearing throughout our nation, complete with a map colored darker to show where masks are commonly worn and lighter where they are worn less often. As we might expect, the darker colors are in higher population areas along the east and west coasts and the Gulf of Mexico. The lightest concentrations are in our nation’s midsection with its vast plains and fewer people and in the South where several states have attempted — an apparently failed at — widespread re-openings.

Social scientists tell the Times that other factors beyond population density are at work. Elizabeth Dorrance, an assistant professor of communications at Michigan State University, says mask-wearing responds to peer pressure. If our family and friends regularly wear masks and value that behavior, we probably will as well, and vice versa. And while the goal is 100% masking, that is unrealistic. Harvard Medical School’s Julia Marcus notes that not everyone buckles a seatbelt, wears a bike helmet, gets vaccinated, has stopped smoking or practices safe sex — no matter what the law says or how often they hear admonitions.

All of that said, it will probably not surprise you to learn that political partisanship is the major predictor of masking or not masking. Generally speaking, more Democrats wear masks and cite protecting others as a reason, and more Republicans go barefaced, citing a right to individual decisions. Shana Gadarian of Syracuse University is blunt. “The big takeaway of all the data is partisanship is the big determinant of all the behavior. It is not age. It is not where you live.”


Tension between community wellbeing and individual rights has been with us since the birth of our nation. Our Founding Fathers argued — and never resolved — federalism versus states’ rights, and we struggle with those same issues today. I get that regarding political issues and am grateful that North Carolina and the other 49 make our own decisions about public education, voting issues and other important aspects of life in a democratic republic.

But when it comes to public health?

Viruses, including COVID-19, are neither Democrats or Republicans, nor do they care whether they infect members of one or both parties. Sick is sick and dead is dead, no matter what one’s party affliction. Various versions of this saying exist, and it often attributed to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” It means that, yes, I am free to make my own decisions, but I am not free to hurt you or to infringe on your rights.

In other words, I am not free to spew my germs on you just because I do not like wearing a mask, and neither are you.

For the health of our nation, Democrats, Republicans and everyone else should just put on a darn mask and quit whining about it.

Showing our troops the support they deserve

02 jessica radanavong 0ZkAINlmtOs unsplashThis week, our publisher, Bill Bowman, yields his space to Congressman Richard Hudson.

As Fort Bragg’s Congressman, it’s an honor to represent so many active-duty soldiers, their families and our veterans. We owe a debt to everyone who has served in our nation’s military, as well as their families, for the sacrifices they have made to protect our country. We also owe it to them to make sure they have all the available tools and resources they deserve.

Congress returned this week to pass the latest National Defense Authorization Act. This annual defense bill lays out all of the priorities to keep our military strong and support military families and veterans. This year, I was proud to work with my colleagues to include a record-setting number of provisions in the bill.

These provisions included a 10% increase in hazardous duty pay for those serving in eligible locations. This increase will support our warfighters who put their lives on the line and is in addition to an overall 11% pay raise for our troops since President Trump entered office.
For members of the Special Operations Community, I secured improvements to the Preservation of the Force and Family program established to create a holistic approach to address pressures on the force and increased stress on operator’s families.

Military families make sacrifices for our country, too. That’s why I secured language in the bill that will help improve future Impact Aid funding for schools in military communities. I also secured improvements to strengthen the Exceptional Family Member Program that supports special needs education for military families.

Finally, for veterans, I worked across the aisle to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs burn pit registry is expanded to include veterans who served in Syria. Our community has one of the fastest growing veteran populations in the country and we owe it to these heroes to take care of them both during and after they have served our country. After years of fighting in the Middle East, many of our servicemembers were exposed to toxic chemicals through the use of burn pits which have been linked to serious health conditions, including cancer.

Together, these provisions in the NDAA will further support our troops, their families and our veterans.

Also, as part of my commitment to our military, earlier this year I helped secure a President Unit Citation for the 30th Infantry Division for its service in World War II.

Made up in part of National Guard soldiers from North Carolina and nicknamed the “Old Hickory Division” after President Andrew Jackson, the division landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and became a vital part of the Allied effort to defeat Nazi Germany.

Among their accomplishments, the division of 13,000 soldiers held off an advance of 80,000 German troops at Mortain, France in August 1944. Historical records indicate that general, and later president, Dwight D. Eisenhower intended for the 30th Infantry Division to be recognized with the Presidential Unit Citation. However, the designation went overlooked for nearly 70 years.

Former Congressman Larry Kissell fought for the 30th Infantry Division’s recognition and when I came into office, he asked me to carry on the fight. I worked for more than seven years throughout the Obama and Trump administrations to have the 30th recognized. Finally, nearly 75 years after their heroic stand at Mortain, in March President Donald Trump directed the U.S. Army to award the Presidential Unit Citation and ensure these veterans get the credit they deserve.

This week, the citation was presented to the 30th Infantry Division at a ceremony at the North Carolina National Guard. This ceremony was a culmination of years of hard work and I have been proud to work with so many veterans, the North Carolina National Guard and President Trump to make it happen.

You can rest assured that as long as I am your Congressman, I will continue to do everything I can to support our troops, their families and our veterans.

Richard Hudson

Member of Congress


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