Tuesday, May 26, 2009

DAY 12

DAY 12

It's Memorial Day. Happy Memorial Day to me. Guess how I'm going to celebrate this wonderful holiday??? Ding Ding Ding!!! You've got it... I'm going to work!!

For the low man on the todem pole holidays in the news business are just another day of the week. The only thing that separates them from any other day of the week is that there are less people to give you a headache... and of course you are expected to do more (because there are less people to help!). Working memorial day doesn't really bother me. I didn't have any plans and it is cloudy and rainy again anyways. It is Christmas, and Thanksgiving, and even the 4th of July that get to me. Those are the times when you want to be out celebrating... not sitting in an empty newsroom trying to come up with something that could pass for a newsworthy story. Those are the days when I really question whether or not this job is worth it. Those are the days when I remind myself that not only do I get paid less then I did before I had a college degree, but I also have to work on the only days of the year when my whole family is back in Chicago. Because of this job I missed Christmas Eve with my Grandmother who is in her nineties, my little sisters graduation from highschool, thanksgiving with my aunts and uncles, and seeing my five year old sister open her Christmas present from me.

There are certain moments that we live for. Times in our life that only come once... so you better be there to enjoy them or live with the regret of missing out. Sometimes I feel like this job sits me on the sidelines... or won't even let me into the stadium. Isn't the point of working so that we can make money to live... not so that our whole life can pass us by without us even knowing... because we were too busy working...

Luckily Memorial Day isn't one of those holiday's where people sleep in, and then sit around their house all day doing nothing (like Christmas). On Memorial Day people get out... so we aren't exactly stretching for stories this morning. Air Force Academy graduation is this week and I'm the lucky photog that is sent up north to cover the awards parade. Rarely am I on time... so when I show up at the gate at 9 am, coffee in hand, ready for a long day of standing around watching Cadets march in the distance, you can imagine my disdain for ABC who is late... well not really late... we wait till 9:40 and finally give up on them and leave.

Military events are miserable... first of all, while everyone else is wandering around the academy completely unattended, we are attached to the hip of a public affairs person like a dog on a leash. Stand here. Don't walk here. If you need to move ask first. You can point your camera this way, but not that way. What questions are you asking? The list goes on and on and on. I think I failed out of puppy training school cause I just want to tell them to shove it and go where I please. Secondly, military events are painfully long, and enormously boring...

The awards parade goes a little something like this... crowd sits down in the stand and waits... for about an hour and a half. The cadets line up all the way on the other side of the field... if you have a great pair of binoculars you might be able to see them. Not your cadet of course... since they are all dressed alike... Then the pomp and circumstance begins. They march.... and march... and march... and march. First to the east. Then to the North. Sometimes they turn around and wave a flag. Finally they stop (keep in mind they are still so far away that you can hardly see them). We stand. We sit. They march. And it goes on... and on... and on... and on. Finally the thunderbirds fly over in perfect formation. The roar is so loud that the ground shakes beneath me, but I still barely get the shot. In a millisecond they are gone and I'm standing there wondering why I wasn't ready! Two hours later I'm leaving the Acadeamy, sunburned... with a lot of wide shots.

I get back to the station, happy that it's not raining. I'd rather be burned then sopping wet. One more story to go, a little news barbeque and I'm off... not a bad memorial day.

One pm rolls around and I'm off to Evergreen cemetary for historical war ceremony commemorating soldiers of the past. As I roll up the sky turns an ugly gray shade and threatens to spit rain. I'm in a hurry to get back to the barbeque anyways, so I vow to shoot quickly and get out before it pours. Just in case, I throw my raincoat over the camera... it never hurts to be prepared. Before I can even switch the power on... bang... rain. Great. Just my luck. I get a few shots and head back to my car before it really starts to come down. On my way out flags lined up on the graves of fallen soldiers catches my eye. They whip around in the wind, delicate flowers barely surviving the pelting water.

The car is so warm, so dry... but it isn't everyday that you see a sight like this one. Suddenly making it back to the bbq doesn't seem quite so important. On the other end of the field I spot two young girls... roses in hand, placing new flowers on graves where the old ones have been washed away. Their clothes are drenched, but they don't seem to notice the rain. I get out and walk over to them... interrupting whatever peace is in the air. I ask why they are out here... whether the rain could ever deter them. One of the girls looks up at me and says, "never... we are out here every year... the rain would never stop us. They gave their life for us... the least we can do is give a flower to them." With that she bent down and dropped the rose in her hand. Without looking back she walked away... and I was left standing in the rain, soaking wet...

It isn't the bbq's or the camping that makes memorial day special. It is the people who have made the ultimate sacrifice... given their life so that we can celebrate and enjoy the rain and parades and getting paid to work on a holiday.

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