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Saying goodbye easier said than done

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By CATRINA FRANCIS/Senior Staff Writer

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For the past 10 years, the Fort Knox Public Affairs Office has been my second home. I’ve spent a lot of time meeting new people, conducting interviews, writing and editing stories and laying out the Turret, which became The Gold Standard.

When I accepted this position, I thought Fort Knox was going to be my final stop – my forever home. But that didn’t happen and now I’m saying goodbye. I will be moving to Joint Base Meyer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.

Although I’ve said goodbye to countless people since the days I left Wisconsin, I never thought leaving Kentucky would be this difficult. Since moving here, I’ve met friends who have become my surrogate family. Leaving is bittersweet.

When I accepted this position more than 10 years ago, I had no idea I was going to be working on a newspaper as distinguished as The Turret. While at Fort Bliss, Texas, I read The Turret and thought it was one of the better Army newspapers. I learned The Turret was the standard in military newspapers and weekly newspapers in the state. I also had no idea I would be working for Larry Barnes. The first time I heard that name was during my interview, it didn’t ring any bells to me. I soon learned that I would be working with “The Dean” of Army newspapers.

Before Larry’s retirement, he was what many called “The Man.” When the Army had new ideas about its newspapers, their first call was to Larry. I learned journalists who worked for Larry were held to higher standards because they learned from the best.

After working for Larry for a few months, I began to see why The Turret was the Army’s standard. Larry didn’t shy away from stories and he definitely didn’t shy away from controversy. The more controversial the better as far as Larry was concerned. He wanted our readers talking about stories in the paper, and sometimes they talked and called. When they called that meant they were reading our paper.

When I began my journey, I had no idea where the path would lead me. I was beginning a profession without any experience. I decided to try something a little different and told myself if I didn’t like what I was doing, I could always do something else. One year turned into two and now it’s been 12 ½ years. I’ve had an opportunity to meet and interview people I would have never encountered if I wasn’t writing for The Turret and The Gold Standard.

I never envisioned learning secrets of those I interviewed. I sometimes struggled writing what others had shared with me even though an individual said, “It’s OK to print that.” There were times when I just simply said, “I can’t, it’s too personal.”

Working as an Army journalist has taught me the true meaning of trust. Others are trusting me to properly and accurately tell their stories. I’ve often worried if I’m properly telling a person’s story. I’ve never wanted to receive an email that read, “You messed up!” I’m thankful I’ve never heard that or experienced the wrath of someone I interviewed.

In past years, I never had trouble walking away and having a permanent change of station to another installation, but preparing to leave Fort Knox hasn’t been easy. When I began thinking about the last 10 years of my life, I was a little nostalgic. I began to realize leaving here will be different and not as easy as saying it’s been nice. I’m leaving friends who have been my sounding boards and pulled me off the proverbial ledge when I wanted to vent, or when going through life’s issues.

Gold Standard readers who read my sports commentaries know which teams I like. In fact, I’ve had some stop me and talk about sports and what I’ve written. Those are the memories that will remain with me. I’ve even had people tell me what we are doing right as well as what they perceived as wrong with the paper. I actually liked those conversations because that meant people are reading what I’m writing.

On a few occasions, I’ve used the line from “A League of Their Own,” when Tom Hanks’ character says, “There’s no crying in baseball.” I’ve written, “There is no crying in journalism.” But today, I’m wrong because the closer I get to Friday, my last working day, the more misty-eyed I’m becoming. I hope I can remember there’s no crying, but I think I’m going to fail.

I won’t say goodbye. Instead, I will say farewell and borrow a line from a song.

“How do I say goodbye to what we had? The good times that made us laugh, outweighed the bad … I’ll take with me the memories to be my sunshine after the rain. It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.”