It seems like just yesterday that I started writing this column. In reality, it’s been nearly eight years.
I’ve written a Sunday column about military family life every week – that’s equivalent to roughly 400 columns. And this is my last one.
Our family moved to Elizabeth City when my husband’s job with the Coast Guard brought us there in 2004. A year or so later I read an article in the paper asking for people to volunteer to be on a readers’ panel for the Daily Advance. The editors were looking for feedback about the newspaper’s coverage of people and events in the area. We were still new to Elizabeth City, but I knew that I wanted to see more coverage of the Coast Guard in the local paper.
I had worked as a journalist, copy editor and section editor at several newspapers around the country, and thought that I could add some insight to the panel. I showed up for the round table discussion and offered my opinion. Later that day I was offered a job.
I began writing human interest stories about Coast Guard families, compiling news briefs about what was happening on the base, and contributing many articles to the Coast Guard special edition for Coast Guard Day. I also began writing this column, and telling the stories of our family, friends and the Coast Guard family as a whole.
When our family transferred from the Coast Guard base in Elizabeth City in 2008, I thought it wouldn’t be long before another writer took over the column. Each week I thought someone else would step forward and carry on with the task of telling the stories of what it’s like for Coast Guard families around the world.
Each month I thought another journalist would take an interest in sharing their own family’s stories, as well as the stories of their friends and neighbors. Each year I was sure that I wouldn’t have much more time to share my experiences with the Daily Advance readers.
And it has continued that way for nearly eight years.
I never imagined that I would have something to say every week for more than 400 weeks. But, I discovered that the story of Coast Guard families is as diverse and unique as each and every Coast Guard member, dependent, reservist, auxiliarist and civilian employee who works for the Coast Guard.
Along the way I have met hundreds of people – many of whom have become personal friends of our family. I have interviewed people who faced unthinkable hardships and overcame unfathomable obstacles in their Coast Guard careers and personal lives.
I have written about tragedies and triumphs, victories and defeats. I have written about veterans and retirees, and helped to share the stories of so many people with a connection to the Coast Guard.
I have been inspired by thousands of people who accomplished amazing feats and daring rescues that most people could never imagine. I have been moved by the courage, grace and dedication displayed by the men and women of the United States Coast Guard. And I have been impressed by the friends and family who stood behind them and supported them as they displayed honor, respect and devotion to duty each and every day of their service. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to tell their stories.
I have also met many readers who have touched my life through their response to my articles, and their willingness to let me into their homes by reading those stories.
And, for that I say thank you. I wish you all fair winds and following seas.