Casualties of War

As a journalist, I’ve had the rare opportunity to witness firsthand the sacrifices local soldiers and their families have made in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As a reporter for KATU the last twelve years, I have reported from mobilization ceremonies, demobilization ceremonies, happy homecomings and funerals.

It is a privilege to understand the military in this way – to tell the stories of those who serve – to document the spectrum of emotion that comes with their commitment to duty.

I’ve watched as a father in The Dalles scooped up his young daughter, wondering about the milestones he will miss in the year that his unit is deploying overseas.

I’ve stood with a woman as she anxiously scanned the sailors’ faces lining the edge of the USS Abraham Lincoln pulling into port in Everett, Washington, straining to catch sight of her sailor.

What we knew but she did not is that he was coming off that ship to get down on one knee and propose to her.

And what ensued was one of the funniest moments I have ever encountered in my career. It involved our story subject finding her beloved, taking off toward him in a dead sprint, and losing her footing as she got within two feet of him.

Whatever preconceived notion my photographer Chris Wilkinson and I may have had about capturing a romantic proposal evaporated.

She body tackled that poor sailor – who happened to be foot shorter than her -with the force of a defensive lineman, sending the red roses he was holding flying in every direction.

No need for him to drop to a knee.

He was already on the ground.

Wilkinson had to look away as he shot the scene because he was laughing so hard the camera was bouncing on his heaving shoulders.

Our astonishment and stifled chuckles then turned into joyful tears. She said “yes.”

Others tears have been shed in the course of my reporting. Sometimes I’m not on scene. Sometimes I’m just in the anchor chair, my weekend post in the evenings.

On this story http://KATU: Two Marines I had learned earlier in the week from a contact in Governor Kulongoski’s office that two Marines were to be buried on the same day. This would create a logistical challenge with the services taking place quite a distance apart. Still, I pitched the story. It felt important.

With the help of our sister station in Eugene and KATU Photographer Monty Orrick, I wrote and presented a piece that in the end, overwhelmed me on-air.

It’s a real moment.

May we honor the fallen, today, especially, and always.

Twitter: @AnnaCanzanoKATU