Thursday, May 07, 2009

My life as a reporter - the high

I sat next to him on the couch as he slowly flipped through a yellowing scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings and black and white photographs.

He would have been a great small town paper interview subject for any number of reasons. Lifelong resident, former school committee member, respected doctor, amateur jazz musician. Hell, he was even the uncle of a famous professional wrestling champion.

But what brought me to his immaculately kept home on that day was the images in that scrapbook and his memory of the events he witnessed the day a number of those photographs were taken. December 7, 1941. He had been attending a church service when the first Japanese planes began they're deadly run. Within hours, nearly 1,500 American servicemen were dead, the American naval fleet laid in tatters, and any pretense Americans had of staying on the sidelines while war waged around the rest of the globe was gone.

And I was sitting next to a man who was there, who had seen his friends die, who had experienced what had started as a day much like any other and ended as a traumatic milestone in American history.

Honestly, I don't remember a lot of the details he told me about what happened On December 7, 1941. But there is one thing he told me that I will never forget.

"I still have trouble sleeping at night sometimes. I have nightmares about that day that wake me up," he told me.

A week later, after the story ran in my paper, I got a voicemail from the man's wife. She told me that her husband had teared up when he read the story, that of all the newspaper stories that had been written about his experience at Pearl Harbor, mine had been the one that told it the closest to the way it had actually been.

Of my several modest achievements as a reporter, that is the single one that I am proudest of. For all the countless opinions that have been bandied about lately about the importance of journalism, in my opinion, it boils down to one thing: Telling an interesting or important story, and telling it well.

7 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

Great job, EC, and it was very nice of the man's wife to share his reaction with you.

2:53 PM  
Blogger david mcmahon said...

Thanks for the visit and comment, EC. This is a great story with a wonderful summation.

Bravo!

7:32 PM  
Blogger Suldog said...

What a wonderful tribute to your humanity it is when someone tells you that your work has made them tear up. Nicely done.

12:45 PM  
Blogger endangered coffee said...

Thanks for the kind words, all.

Usually, my work just makes me tear up, for totally different reasons.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Michelle H. said...

Incredible story. You do have mush to be proud of

2:37 PM  
Blogger Jazz said...

Would that more people saw it like you do.

9:05 PM  
Blogger The Things We Carried said...

A story that should be told and retold. My son is a soldier. This post got me.

8:54 PM  

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