Monday, April 19, 2010

Running into the past in the future

As I was uploading photos from our March mission trip, I started looking at other photos in my “Picture” folder. Most are personal family photos, but I have a few from the newspaper.

This top photo is perhaps my favorite photo of any I’ve ever taken. The set, plus one more that for some reason I didn’t keep on file, won me a first-place Photo Essay award in 2008 from the Society of Professional Journalists. :)

The soldier saluting in the background is the brother of the deceased. The two were fellow Marines.

The next photo is of his parents, his mother clutching the American flag after it was handed to her by a soldier helping to bury her son.

Ironically, the soldier being laid to rest is the nephew of former FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh. At the time of the funeral, I was asking, “Joe who?” But just a few months later, old Joe would become one of the key figures in several stories I researched and wrote about the cleanup (or lack thereof) of the Blackwell smelter.

I don’t think Joe attended his nephew’s funeral, but wouldn’t it be something if there I was, standing just feet away from the man himself?

Now, I’m listening to the OKC bombing memorial service, and I can’t help but think of another virtual “run-in” with the un-decent.

My first job out of college was at the Junction City Daily Union in Junction City, Kan. My first house I lived in when I moved there was in White City, just a few miles up the road from Herrington, Kan. – home to Terry Nichols, friend and cohort of Timothy McVeigh.

When I moved, I rented a Ryder truck, of course, and returned it to Eldon’s Body Shop, where all Ryder trucks – including the one McVeigh used in the bombing – are rented in Junction City, Kan.

That was eerie. A few weeks later, seeing the dumpy hotel room he stayed in the night before he rented the truck was too.

I worked with a creepy guy who took a job at the newspaper just to see these “landmarks” for which, unfortunately, Junction City gained worldwide recognition.

Despite McVeigh’s unseemly influence on the city, the job at the Daily Union was probably my favorite to date. And I fell in love with Junction City and the people there. I only left because I missed Oklahoma. That seems to happen every time I get away from home.


Mark 4:1-20
1 Corinthians 7:17-40
Psalm 80
Joshua 22, 23

Mark 4:21-41
1 Corinthians 8
Psalm 81
Joshua 24

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