By Cait Collins
Have you ever been in a situation that was so intense and over-powering you couldn’t describe it? I can think of several situations where there were just no words that fit or would bring the event to life.
The John Kennedy assignation comes to mind. I was in junior high (that’s the old fashioned word for Middle School) when I watched President Kennedy exit Air Force One and run up into the crowd. He was young, vibrant, and engaging. A few weeks later he was dead. As a kid, I couldn’t define how I felt. Schools were closed, and we watched everything on TV. But it wasn’t real. Who would kill the President of the United States? Fifty some odd years later I still remember that day, and I still can’t make sense of what I saw or how I felt.
The Panhandle Wildfires. I remember an email from a writer friend trapped in her home. “We are surrounded by fire. Pray for us.” She and her family survived but others did not. I read John Erickson’s blogs and marveled at the courage and fortitude of cowboys. Yet I cannot put their situation and losses into words.
My first Presidential Press Corps was exciting. I enjoyed the rush of being investigated, finger printed, and receiving my first national press badge. I stood at the front of the pack with my recorder and microphone in hand waiting for Air Force One to land. When President Ford stepped to the podium, I had my microphone in his face and hoped he’d call on me. I had my question prepared. “Did you have a deal with President Nixon? Was the President’s resignation pending your promise of a pardon?” I never had a chance to ask my question, but I was a close to the President of the United States as the Secret Service allowed. How did I feel? Important is the only answer I have.
“Just a few flurries folks. Nothing to write home about. By morning we had 40 inches of snow on the ground. Mom and Dad had to dig the car out of a drift. Dad had to wade through chest deep snow drifts to connect the oil hose to the tank. I was afraid he’d die.
National and international disasters like the tsunami in the Far East that killed hundreds, destroyed property and left so many homeless. I saw pictures of people running away from the danger, but I couldn’t put myself in their places.
These events are just a few ideas of remembering incidents that should be fodder for our best stories. But our awe of events that are so important or disturbing causes us to freeze. Could I write news stories about the disaster in the Texas Gulf region? No, but I’m glad there are those who can.