Thursday, August 25, 2016

All Lives Have Meaning

A year passed since reporter Allison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed on the job in Virginia that sparked high emotions in newsrooms nationwide.

Stories that hit close to home always hurt the most, whether you’re a reader, viewer or member of the media. Our lives in the media aren't much different than anyone else's life. We aren’t perfect either. We cry too. Some of us pray. We bleed. We die on the job. Our number one job-related death is murder. Our lives matter too.

WDBJ7 Reporter Allison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed on the job on Aug. 26, 2015. 
It’s always hard when you lose one of your own, even if you didn’t know them personally. Police officers, firefighters and military service members feel that pain with line of duty deaths. Each group shares a bond, a second family, that can only be understood by those in that vocation.

The WDBJ7 TV station, where Allison and Adam worked, was among the many media outlets to report on their deaths. You could hear the pain in our voices when we talked about the loss of our own as members of the media. It was in the back of our minds as we worked that warm August day that it could happen to us. We stayed strong together. Many of us reached out to friends in the media and entertainment business and encouraged safety. We are cautious on assignments. Despite that, we don’t always see the potential dangers around us.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Earning challenge coins

Pictured is the challenge coin that Past Chief Joseph M. Lombardo Jr.
presented to Ginger Rae Dunbar.
I carry two challenge coins in my pocket every day. It’s not a lot, but it means a lot to me.

I received my first challenge coin as a journalist from a police chief as a thank you for my reporting. I earned three more as a volunteer firefighter.

I earned two during fire school at the Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center from lead instructor Chief Joseph M. Lombardo Jr. Of those two, he gave me one for my 96% average test score – the top in my class. Lombardo, a past fire chief at Garden City Fire Company, has a tradition to present students with a challenge coin for having a 90% or higher test score average. He informed our fire chiefs about our progress throughout the four-month “firefighter one” program. My fire chief gave me and my two fellow firefighters in my class our fire company challenge coin upon completing fire school in December 2015. They both also received a coin from Instructor Lombardo for their test score average.

When we thanked Chief Lombardo for the coin, he told us we earned it. The nine of us that walked away with a coin and the top scores of the class successfully strived to be named among the best.

Challenge coins began as military tradition, one that builds camaraderie. Service members could earn them as a medallion or a reward for valor. Many carried them as a memento. It also represents that they are a member of that organization.
 Pictured is the challenge coin that Chief Joseph M. Lombardo Jr. presented to Ginger Rae Dunbar and eight other students for having a 90 percent or higher test score average.