This is, I think, the first time since 1997 where I haven't interviewed a veteran and done a story about Rememberance Day. Which is a bit weird. It's almost become a routine part of my life at this time of year. "Oh, it's late October. Time to find a veteran and do a Remembrance Day story."
Or something along those lines. You always try to find a new angle. Perhaps a Korean War vet this year. Maybe someone who has served overseas in a peacekeeping role.
I hate to make it sound blaise, but these are often difficult stories to write...or they were for me. The pool of veterans from WW II and the Korean War are sadly getting smaller each year. There are no vets left from WW I in Newfoundland. And you're asking people to recount horrific events. That's never easy. Most are amazingly gracious with their time and are patient while you ask the most idiotic of questions, or questions they've been asked dozens of times before.
I think it was one of the things I struggled with, as a writer, with Remembrance Day. A lot of these stories have been told many times before. And there is also a segment of the population that while the recognizing that, yeah, it's an important day, it's also a day off work. Which means they don't go to the ceremonies and they don't read the stories. And they're the ones you want to reach. You want to tell a really captivating story in the hopes you can grab some of those people and make them appreciate, once more, the importance of this day.
Which is one more reason why I always appreciated Danette Dooley at this time of the year. Danette's a freelance writer in St. John's who has done a lot of work for The Express and Link. She's an excellent freelance writer in that you can call her at any time and ask her if she has anything and she'll have 5 story ideas for you in a few minutes. She can also write fast and pretty good.
But her biggest asset is that she's amazing with people. She's never been interested in "hard" news. But if you need a human interest story done, fewer are better at it in the province than she is. And between Remembrance Day and Christmas she always manages to find just the right people to tell just the right story. I always felt she was underappreciated. She is, when she really zones in on the story, one of the better journalists in the province.
As for my remembering, I think of my great-grandfather who fought in WW I. He died a week before I was born so I never got to meet him. But he fought in the war. Was seriously injured and left for dead, but managed to survive, return home, raise a family and become an important man in his community. I always regretted never meeting him. I think he would have been a great man to talk to.
Special Remembrance Day iPod selection
1. The band played Waltzing Matilda - The Pogues (Rum, Sodomy and the Lash)
2. Goodnight Saigon - Bill Joel (Greatest Hits)
3. Devils and Dust - Bruce Springsteen (Devils and Dust)
4. Brothers in arms - Dire Straits (Brothers in Arms)
5. Arthur McBride - The Planks (The Planks)