Covering Veterans Day

It’s been awhile since I’ve been involved in covering Veterans Day, or even Memorial Day or Independence Day, for that matter.

Covering holidays and events that happen year-after-year-after-year can be a challenge. You want to come up with something different and new. But how?

My editor gave me lots of leeway in selecting the angle for my Veterans Day story. We kicked around some really great ideas, but they weren’t ones that could be done in the short amount of time that I had available.

So we settled on the idea of simply hanging out with veterans and writing a “slice of life” story based on, well, whatever I learned from them.

I was relieved that the folks at American Legion Post 7 in Crownsville were thrilled that the newspaper wanted to come talk to veterans.

I was further relieved when the men welcomed me and photographer Laura-Chase McGehee with open arms. They are the sweetest group of folks I’ve interviewed in a long time. They were willing to talk freely about their thoughts on Veterans Day, the government and how America treats its servicemen and women.

In fact, they actually thanked us for interviewing them and photographing them. Now that doesn’t often happen. Usually people are none-too-thrilled to see the newspaper show up.

Here’s my story about the American Legion veterans, which I titled, “Lunch at the Legion.”

And please check out this slideshow, which features lots of Veterans Day pictures as well as audio remarks from Gov. Martin O’Malley from a ceremony at the Crownsville Veterans Cemetery. Laura-Chase, Paul W. Gillespie and Joshua McKerrow did great work.

There are a couple of pictures of mine in there, too. In order to cover all of the Veterans Day events, as well as a wedding for a story about 11/11/11 couples, I was pressed into service as a photographer.

I photographed Vietnam veterans from New York arriving at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. They were coming into down for Veterans Day events in Washington, D.C. They were greeted by dozens of folks, including active service members, Naval Academy midshipmen and flag-waving civilians.

It was quite a sight to see the applause and cheers and handshakes and hugs for these men. And they really seemed to appreciate it. I’ll admit to getting a little watery-eyed.

The whole thing was just two minutes’ worth of action, and I immediately had to fire up my computer to send the images to the newsroom to make today’s paper. It was stressful, as there was little room for error. My pictures aren’t as good as they could have been, but I didn’t screw anything up, so that qualifies as a success today.

Vietnam veterans welcomed at BWI Airport, photo by multimedia journalist and environment reporter Pamela Wood.

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