Best Defense

Soldiers and sailors in small-town papers

One of the things I like about reading small-town newspapers (I read two weeklies where I live in Maine, and follow the websites of two other papers) is the short stories about members of the community who have gone off to the military.

140808-N-OR184-043
PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2014) Seaman Leslie Gatlin, from Chicago, stands the lookout watch observing helicopter operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Emiline L. M. Senn/Released)
140808-N-OR184-043 PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2014) Seaman Leslie Gatlin, from Chicago, stands the lookout watch observing helicopter operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Emiline L. M. Senn/Released)

 

One of the things I like about reading small-town newspapers (I read two weeklies where I live in Maine, and follow the websites of two other papers) is the short stories about members of the community who have gone off to the military. I used to see this also when I lived near D.C. and did a lot of whitewater kayaking in the Appalachians.

I know these are essentially press releases, but I like them because they provide some basic facts — when they left town, what they are doing, sometimes a quote about the military. They show someone going off and succeeding. They make a connection between a remote place and service to the nation. And they highlight someone who may never have been in the paper before.

U.S. Navy

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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