On this Memorial Day, we can all look at our American flags and think about the many sacrifices

May 1, 2020

Andrew Johnson

By Andrew Johnson
Goldstar Father/immediate past president | NNA

Memorial Day is a time our nation remembers its war dead — the military heroes who gave their lives since our country’s founding so we can be free.

This year our country is facing a different kind of war with the attack of the coronavirus disease on our citizens.

No community within our boarders seems to be immune from attack.

The war has captivated the headlines of all media, including community newspapers.

On this Memorial Day, I think we need to not only remember the past and current sacrifices being made by the military, but by the many other heroes who have stepped up to fight and do their part.

They, also, are defending and fighting for our way of life.

The obvious heroes who come to mind are the providers in the medical field who come into direct contact with those carrying the disease. These providers include the doctors, nurses, EMTs and nursing home workers, to name a few.

There is another set of heroes that includes all of the people who keep our country going with essential services — like the truckers and delivery folks, people in the food business, government and law enforcement personnel, and the people in our business who cover the stories right here at home.

It is essential that the public knows what is happening locally from a reliable trusted source — community newspapers.

Since this will be my last column for Pub Aux (see here for more), I also want to give an update and recognize the amazing efforts that newspaper people — along with many other citizen volunteers — have made in finding the missing photos of those killed in Vietnam for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Wall (VVMF) of Faces Project.

Last year, when I wrote a Memorial Day column, there were over 1,300 photos missing out of over 58,000 listed on the Wall in Washington, D.C.

At the time of this writing on April 23, there are only 240 veterans that have no photo at all, including seven from California, 10 from Georgia, three from Michigan, 111 from New York, four from Virginia, and 83 from Puerto Rico.

It was amazing to see many volunteers — including those at several state press associations, journalism schools, veterans, concerned citizens, as well as people from both large and small newspapers all around the U.S. — join in the effort.

NNA member newspapers have been helping find photos for this project since 2013 when there were over 20,000 missing.

The next big push for this project — which has already started — is to ensure that the quality of the photos are the best that can possibly be found. Each servicemember needs to be remembered in the best possible light.

Updated information about the Faces Project can be found at vvmf.org. It should be noted that NNA was recognized by the VVMF in its most recent brochure about the project.

On this Memorial Day, we can all look at our American flags and think about all that the flag represents, including the many sacrifices that make our nation a great, as well as a safe, place where the free live.

It is a great time to publish information about local sacrifices in community newspapers to make the public aware.

In closing, I especially want to thank all of you in our industry who are making big sacrifices in an incredibly challenged economic time for newspapers and for supporting NNA. God bless.

Andrew Johnson is the immediate past president of the National Newspaper Association. Email him at johnson2-6@outlook.com