March 21, 2006 Tuesday
We do not decide the times in which we live, but we can dictate what will make of the days we have been given. This I could not have written while first in college in the Nineties, which seems decades ago. When first setting out into the wider world, nearly ten years ago, for Western Illinois University, I was content to follow in my family’s footsteps to be an English teacher. A quiet career for quiet times. The year spent writing for the campus newspaper, the Western Courier, was merely for fun, but exposed me to the real world pressures of interviewing, editors, and deadlines. It was a fun experience, writing articles about the struggling basketball team, a professor nominated for a Grammy and the 2000 election, yet my love of writing was still focused on one day penning the Great American Novel.
Graduated in December 2001 at the brink of a new world, I had quickly decided to join the Navy, out of a sense of duty. While conducting my responsibilities as a sonar technician I was still able to sharpen my skills, writing news releases at the request of the ship’s captain while in the midst of operations. In the years hence I have seen many things that have played out on America’s TV screens and front pages of the morning paper, but throughout I felt like I belonged at another equally vital post, dug into a different type of front line.
These fascinatingly turbulent times are what every writer dreams of covering: the fallout of post-9/11, Enron and subsequent scandals, the Iraq War, Abu Garhib, Hurricane Katrina, and Jack Abramoff all amazingly occurring in the recent past. These stories are so many like them are of such size and importance to not only the present but to the future that a career as a journalist is its own reward. To write the articles or news broadcasts that millions will turn to in trust that they are getting the facts in an objective manner is an awesome responsibility, one that a life can be well proud in dedicating to its pursuit. More and more in these days do I realize how vital a free press is to a free nation, and how easily the balance can be tipped if journalists are not vigilant in guarding the public’s trust and right to know. In this way the role of the journalist and media is no less important to keeping the country free than that of the Chief Justices and army.
The profession of journalism is the career I will pursue to success, and when I am aged I will have my books of clippings to prove I had not merely passed my life, but had seen it, touched it, and reported on it.