As a journalist, people often tell me that my job sounds like fun. I usually smile and nod, inwardly glowering at all the hours I spend working on paper layouts rather than wandering around Fort Bragg taking pictures.
Let’s be honest, journalism is not as glamorous as it seems. When it’s 100 degrees outside during a change of command, I still have to crouch in front of the podium in the sun with my camera. I sweat more than I do running a half marathon. If the concession stand is out of water during a concert, I better have brought my own bottle, because there’s no escaping the press ring with thousands of people pressed shoulder to shoulder behind you.
No, it’s not always fun. I’ve been yelled at, rained on, and frozen to the bone.
But, it’s been worth it.
One of my favorite books growing up was, “Oh, the places you’ll go!” by Dr. Seuss. Maybe it was because the nomad in me craves adventure, always longing to wander and explore. Despite the aspects of journalism that are routine and mundane, there is always the opportunity to tell the untold, showcasing the incredible people who inhabit our planet.
I’ve met some inspiring souls over the last few years. Whether over the phone, in person, or in passing, it’s been a journey filled with faces I will never forget. Some are stars, some heroes, some supermen and women. But they all have served our nation, whether on the homefront or the battlefield, and each one inspires me.
A couple weeks ago, I interviewed Noah Galloway, a double amputee who’s made it his life’s goal to show other veterans that nothing is impossible. He’s run a 58 mile Spartan Death Challenge and competed in CrossFit challenges across the nation. This May, he placed third on Dancing with the Stars. Despite his life-altering injury, I have never met anyone so energized about life.
I’ve also encountered some exceptionally talented individuals. Staff Sgt. Nathan Fair, a former 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, is a singer and songwriter currently stationed with the Old Guard in Virginia. I interviewed Fair for a feature about local musicians, and he embodies the term ‘paratrooper’ in every way. He recently released an album called Freedom Nation, a tribute to the friends and comrades he fought with over the years. If that’s not All American, I don’t know what is.
Sometimes, it’s the Family members who shine. Krystel Spell, a Fort Bragg Army wife, started her own YouTube channel a couple years ago about her adventures as a spouse, and then began a blog called Army Wife 101. Last time I checked, her Facebook page had over 50,000 followers. She told me during our interview that she just wanted to share the positive things about military life. Her blog has become a resource to many military wives (including me), as well as a place to go when you just need a good laugh.
I can’t forget the interviews with Walter J. Marm and Gordon Roberts, Army veterans who fought in Vietnam and received the Medal of Honor for their heroic actions. Marm was even written into a book, called “We Were Soldiers”. Roberts went on to become the command surgeon for the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater) at Fort Bragg. Both men were incredibly humble about their actions. I remember Marm saying, “For me, it’s just an honor to have served with troops for 30 years. I wear the medal with humility. There are a lot of men and women who are more deserving of it than I.”
I could go on and on, but I don’t have enough space. What I do know is that every one of these people has told me a version of the same story — “I just did my job.” “I’m not any more special than the next person.” It’s this humility that has in turn humbled me, and ultimately been the driving factor behind why I put my pen to paper.
These Soldiers and their Families have stories worth telling. And at the end of the day, when all has been written, edited, and published, I can say that in some small way, I got to share these heroes with the world.