Military Yearbook 2012Written by Jeremy Baumhower | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Related stories: Military Yearbook 2012
In February, I dedicated a column to reviewing the two remaining “Mug shot” publications in Northwest Ohio. They are everywhere, so I reviewed them like any other publication. I did not expect to hear the tales of success these “magazines” have in sales; the closer you get to the inner city, the more successful the papers are. That is when these Mug shot papers went from “fun” to “tragic” in my mind; I would no longer enjoy them. People were celebrating the blight of our area, purchasing and supporting publications that make money off of a fellow citizen’s low point.
That is when the Military Yearbook concept popped into my brain.
I called Toledo Free Press Editor in Chief Michael S. Miller and gave him a quick pitch.
“Can you imagine how cool it would be if you dedicated an entire edition, like your incredible Mud Hens Opening Day guides, to just honoring the local military at home and abroad?” I asked.
I told Miller I was tired of seeing criminals’ mug shots every time I was cashing out of Speedway; I would like to just for once see something positive “like a Military Mug shot book.” I could hear Miller’s brain race and felt his tone instantly reflect that we shared a passion for the idea.
What Miller took from a 20-minute phone conversation and collaborated with his staff to bring to actual print is beyond astounding.
“Support our troops” almost feels cliché these days. Everyone jumps at the chance to scream their support for our troops, but few of us actually do anything to ever better their lives. July 4 is the perfect example. While everyone wears red, white and blue, the majority of us are more concerned about fireworks and barbecues than we are with reflecting on why and what the day celebrates. Just by picking up and reading this issue, you will see the faces that defend and protect our country and home.
During previous wartimes, a community knew exactly what boys were serving overseas and whom was stationed where. Stars on windows were closely monitored and gasps would occur when the military car carrying the chaplain and bad news drove into town. The smaller the town, the closer its people would get during times of war. Toledo is the biggest small town in the Midwest and that sense of community has long passed.
Knowing who serves in what branch and what part of the world they are stationed in is nearly impossible. There are no more stars on the windows, no more ribbons tied around the trees. This issue’s entire purpose is to put that “sense of community” back into ours.
The only thing worse than a soldier, local or not, coming home in a box, is that we, the citizens, rarely know who they were, or who their family is. We only learn the names of soldiers after injuries or deaths. Hopefully, this publication will help to change that.
I cannot imagine the pride, the emptiness the uncertainty a parent of a soldier must feel about having a child serve our country. I would hate the clichés these holidays have inspired. Although your son or daughter has a military family, a brotherhood, and is never alone, the families left behind have a constant wheel missing, an emptiness that would gnaw at any person’s soul.
I challenge you to read the names of those listed here, find a last name familiar to you from your church, your school days or simply from your neighborhood. You will find at least one … and when you do, shoot the family a quick “Thank you” in some form, whether through Facebook, text message, email or handwritten note. More importantly, involve a young person in this process. Share the gift of service and sacrifice with our children — put a specific name and face with the words “troops” and “military.”
This issue was not designed for the soldiers themselves, but to give a printed reminder and sense of pride to everyone else.
I hope this is the only Military Yearbook the Toledo Free Press ever gets to print. I pray all of our soldiers will be home watching the fireworks and enjoying the barbecues next year.
Until then, God Bless.
Follow Jeremy Baumhower on Twitter @JeremyTheProduc.