CorpsStories 1st Anniversary
Editorial, Memorial Day 2003
The forming of CorpsStories.com was an act of
frustration. I was angry at an editor.
He had changed Marine to
soldier, in what was for me a groundbreaking story, because he said I had,
used the word Marine too often. Although since then my Marine subjects have
witnessed firsthand this practice by editors hundreds of time due to the war coverage, and
possibly I have now been vindicated as not guilty, I still cringe at the thought of that
story - the story of Lt. Col.s John and Marcela Monahan.
But their lives were well represented in
that Worcester Telegram piece, in part because that same editor found it just as important
as I that the Monahans spirituality not be blanketed. They had inspired me. Not them
alone, but somehow meeting and knowing them, and the manner in which they conduct their
lives, was providential for me as a journalist.
Journalists often find themselves
focused, either by accident or purpose, over time, on specific subject matter. I found, as
I covered various types of stories, that features, profiles, were where I was able to
express my heart in terms of fact. Military profiles were easily the most comfortable
types of stories for me because of my love of our military, especially the Marine Corps.
George Barnes is very well known local
writer. He has written and edited for the largest central Massachusetts papers for many
years and has a column in the Telegram, aside his local news stories. All this matters
because when I was first writing for Barney Cummings in Athol, I aspired to write as well
We didnt know each other very well,
but one day, after I had written a profile on a local Army general come home to retire and
marry his high school sweetheart, I ran into George in town. Oh, and Meriwether, I
liked that Meehan story. Nice job, he said as we passed. I had dug way down inside
with that story, and I was somewhat afraid that I had been too colorful until then.
General Meehan had expressed to me how
blessed he had been throughout his life. So had the Colonels Monahan. So had my beloved
Aunt Betty, wife of my Uncle Dave, a Marine pilot. They were adding up.
One benefit of not being a twenty
something journalist is that readers and sometimes even editors, give my personal
perspective some respect. Im a Christian woman. I want to reveal to my readers, when
possible, a subjects thoughts about God in their newsworthy experiences. But this is
not often a welcome angle by those who publish my stories.
Many spiritual people focus their lives
around what they believe Gods will is for them. When such a person emphasizes this
while being interviewed by the press, the average reporter will note it, write it, and
fully expect it to get cut before print or broadcast.
About a week into the war with Iraq,
three wounded Marines were being interviewed from the military hospital in Germany where
they were recuperating. One First Sergeant was asked why he thought he survived that
attack in Nasariah, while 18 other Marines were killed. When he responded that it was nothing short of the
grace of God, I thought, youve just been asked your last question, my friend. Well,
I was wrong. The interview continued for about another half hour. He was asked one other
Ill be the first to admit that not
every Marine is an example of great moral values. However, when a second-to-the-highest
enlisted ranking Marine is sitting before the entire world saying that God delivered his
safety - this is significant. It is as significant, factually speaking, as if he has said
it was the outstanding equipment, or flawless training, which had saved him.
I want to know as a journalist, how is
God a part of that Marines professional experience? He is x-thousand miles from his
family. Who knows how long it has been since he has had contact with them. He has watched
his Marines die and get wounded. He has been hungry and filthy and starved for sleep
while hundreds looked to him for leadership and strength and encouragement. And
this is what inspires me as a reader, as an American, as a Christian.
I want the moral quality of my life to be
that of that Marine. I want to be very, very brave in life. I want to be humble and know
that I am giving something to this world with sacrifice on my part, but not with self
pity, as I know how blessed I am. Blessed by God. By the Lord Jesus Christ.
There have been times when maintaining
CorpsStories has been very discouraging. In this year since its launch last Memorial
Day, I've had one major professional disappointment, which left tears streaming down my
face for three days straight. And Ive shed a lot of other tears for those
whove died. And Ive gone to bed way too late. And Ive wished that more
folks wanted to read about these Marines.
CorpsStories is not for everyone. High
hits may just not happen. But as long as the site stays focused on the lives of some
Marines and the place of God in their lives - I will know the quality of my
journalism has never been higher.