After writing news for a while, I’ve found that it has been easy to be disconnected from what I cover.
I meet new sources, listen to their stories and piece together what is newsworthy and able to be printed for readers. I ponder the details like puzzle pieces, fitting together what I have, what I need and what will best bring out the personalities. My work is fact-checked, copy-edited and designed to fit the paper.
In the process of telling their stories, I often forget about the people behind them.
That was not the case for the Cindy LaPointe-Dafler, an advocate for veterans and widow of Guy LaPointe Jr, one of three conscientious objectors to ever have won the Medal of Honor, who died in Vietnam just a month before he turned 21.
I spoke to Cindy for a story I did for Memorial Day in Dayton. Her late husband was being honored at the VA Medical Center in Dayton, so I met with her and a few others in a quiet corner of the war museum on the VA campus.
We talked about how the couple first locked eyes from across the room and knew it was meant to be. She told me about their Norman Rockwell-esque, perfect teenage Americana dates — sneaking into bars to dance and going to teen mixers together.
Even 50 years later, Cindy’s eyes light up and her voice flutters when she talks about Guy. She still volunteers at the VA hospital, since Guy would have wanted that, she told me.
Her dedication to telling her late husband’s story touched me in a way that no other story ever has. Guy’s love was so strong that, even though she has remarried since, she was willing to sit down with a reporter for two hours and re-live her pain.
I have never met someone as passionate about someone else as Cindy was for Guy. I admire her commitment to continue telling his story all these years later, and I hope that I can make an impression on someone so deeply that I still mean something to them long after I’m gone.
I think that’s what everyone wants, in a sense. To be gone but not forgotten. Cindy’s love for Guy outlives him, and I hope that my work will someday outlive me. I haven’t forgotten Cindy, and I don’t think that I ever will.
Nolan Simmons is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Nolan by tweeting him @NolanSimmons37.