Column: On Veterans Pages

On Veterans Pages

Dear Readers:

We put our veterans pages in last week, you may have seen them: a few pages with small dog tag graphics along with the names, service information, and perhaps a photo of area veterans.

Then, we brace ourselves for the backlash.

No, not for putting these pages in, but for who we left out of them. People get angry. It’s not usually the veterans themselves, but their family members or perhaps their friends.

I understand it, really. When someone you care about has served their nation and then isn’t recognized for it, I’m sure it could seem like a slap in the face.

It’s not though.

We don’t have a database of area veterans, and if we did, the best we could do would probably be pages full of text, with no graphics or photos, and there would still be a lot more of them. A lot of people have served.

We don’t research the veterans that we put on there. Last year, we did look into trying to find information on all the veterans in the area and we found a file listing (complete or incomplete, we don’t know) of veterans from all over Illinois. It was listed by last name, not county, and there was more than 200 pages of those names.

We get the veterans who go on those pages from local submissions, and honestly, I like it that way. Family members bring them in, and sometimes the veteran themselves. In the case of the family members though, what I love to see is the pride they have for their family member’s service, the care they take in handing us their photos. These are heirlooms to them.

In the weeks running up to Veterans Day, we run ads in The Nashville News asking for submissions, and we ask around town too. It must be working to some degree, because we had a whole slew of new veterans to add to the pages this year. We also reuse the veterans from last year’s edition (and a few years before that).

I am not from here – I don’t always know which names are important people from town and which are not. For these pages, the only reason I care about your name is so that we can be sure that we spell it correctly.

Likewise, I don’t care about your veteran’s branch of service (at least, in comparison to any other branch), whether they served in wartime or not, or whether they went abroad or stayed in the U.S. The only thing we care about is that they served.

In the November 13, 2013 edition of The Nashville News, I did a story on the Nashville American Legion’s honor guard. Something that J.W. Metcalf said to me for that story has stuck with me, and it’s become a motto of sorts when I do stories or other coverage of veterans.

J.W. stated that not being from the area originally, he didn’t always know the men that he was helping put to rest. He said, “I assume that every one of them were on Omaha Beach on D-Day, or at Iwo Jima’s flag raising, and I try to give them the best rites possible.”

I am not a veteran. For me to say that one person’s service was more valuable than another’s, or that one veteran was more deserving of space in our paper than another person, would be highly disrespectful. Even if I were a vet, it would be disrespectful.

What I am, is extraordinarily honored, blessed and lucky that folks like our area veterans and their brothers and sisters in arms the world over, would serve and sacrifice for me, for my coworkers, and for all of us.

We are not playing favorites. All of our veterans are worthy of far more thanks and recognition than we could ever give them.

–Alex Haglund, Managing Editor

If you would like to see your veteran on The Nashville News’ Veterans pages next year, you don’t need to wait until then – please, feel free to get us their photo and information now and we will file it until then. If a veteran has passed on, please let us know and we will move their entry to the pages we do on Memorial Day, or feel free to bring us their photo and information as well and we will file it for that issue.