I’m feeling a bit impish right now.

I dug around on the YNT server, and found a PDF of Saturday’s special section honoring our local veterans. Of course, I had to sneak a peek – and boy does it look good.

I can’t wait for you all to read it; not just because our layout guru did a great job setting everything up and it looks absolutely gorgeous, but most of all because we have some amazing heroes right here in our community whose stories need to be shared. Today’s paper also features one of our veterans, who was trusted to communicate with non-English-speakers during WWII and now communicates through his music.

The veterans I spoke with were very open – no B.S. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to relive being constantly on edge anticipating a nuclear attack, or having to navigate between booby traps on a foreign island. Throughout my career as a journalist, I have met and subsequently shared stories of our soldiers’ valor and dedication. What strikes me is that no matter what branch, what conflict, drafted or not, they all remain modest – a few almost self-depreciating, thinking that they haven’t done enough. To be sure, they all love their country, whether they were in combat or not.

Our military makes the world go ‘round, one of my veterans told me. Even when the bombs are silent and the bullets still, our military helps people wherever and whenever they can. I see veterans I interview soften when they talk about our military’s humanitarian efforts. No matter the horrific experiences they may have had, they remember good works, too, whether it be giving food to hungry children or aiding in the wake of a natural disaster.

As a features writer it’s my job to foster connections between my subjects and my readers. There are few stronger emotions than those we feel for our country, and they are particularly polarized right now. My journalistic principles forbid me from commenting on politics, or letting my beliefs sift into my stories; it’s my job to be a messenger, not an agenda-pusher. I take that very seriously.

That said I know people are going to feel a lot of connections and emotions reading about our veterans – I certainly do. It’s not always pretty, but our soldiers’ stories can inspire us, make us feel safe, introspective, patriotic, proud, loved.

But most of all, readers, I hope you feel grateful.

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