You see just about everything working in local television news. I have covered it all. The bizarre. The odd. The disgusting. The disturbing. The sad. The tragic. The laughable. I've covered antique tractor shows and Jimmy Buffett concerts. I've covered dozens of murders, fires, and arrests.
Sadly, I've covered more than a dozen deaths of servicemen and women.
I covered the latest one today.
I'm hardened. The stories about child abuse or untimely death don't bother me. I'm hardened. You have to be. If I let the things I see, learn about, hear of, and report on affect me, I'd go insane. You have to laugh. You have to separate yourself. You have to. There is no other way to cope with it.
When we learn a member of the armed services from our area has died the procedure is the same. Look for family, call the high school, figure out when knew her, find out who loved him. It's a cut and dry process.
Ten days before Christmas a Cincinnati police officer and a Sergeant in the Air Force Reserves was killed in Afghanistan. He's got three kids. 11 years old, 7 years old, 2 years old. Ten days before Christmas. Today, his friends and family told me about him. Shared stories of determination and courage. They wanted him remembered as more than a number. So do I.
When I finished my interviews I looked up to find his parents, siblings, and friends all listening intently. Hanging on every word spoken about their son/ brother/ husband. The hero. I cried with them (to clarify, I shed a few tears... I didn't need a tissue or anything). I have never cried while working on a story. Never. I thanked them for their sacrifice and as compassionately as I know how I told them I'm sorry. I meant it.
I don't know what brought the tears on (nope, not pregnant). But I'm ok with it. I'm human. Maybe I'm not as hardened as I thought.
I hope I did him justice tonight. RIP.