I watched firsthand historic events during my time in Washington, D.C. Anthrax attacks, a sniper holding the entire population hostage and the five straight days I spent producing live news from Sept. 11 to 15, 2001. (I still have nightmares about the images I saw that were never shown to the public.)
But all of it, my entire career, was shaped by two forces: my family and the Tracy Press.
My grandfathers served in World War II. One a medic with forward Marine units in the Pacific, the other commanding a B-17 bomber flying incredibly dangerous sorties over Europe.
My grandmother was a nurse who flew to foreign nations, risking her freedom many times, to rescue children abandoned by their parents and their government and bring them back to America for adoption.
My aunts are nurses, my uncles dedicated law enforcement officers. My brother Aaron, a utility worker and firefighter, volunteers his time climbing into hazardous ravines to cleanse them of human refuse.
As a businessman and volunteer firefighter for 30 years, Dad has volunteered for more community causes than I can name and, following Sept. 11, helped lead the effort to erect the statue at the firehouse at Central and Ninth memorializing fallen firefighters.
Mom pushed for arts education in our schools and helped found the annual Expressions show and lead the group that refurbished a rundown former vaudeville theater into the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts.
While I lack the gifts the rest of my family possess — and believe me, I haven’t scratched the surface of all they have done — I knew early on that it was my responsibility to find a way to give back. I finally figured out how in 1986 when Jack Eddy published my first article in the Press.
The Tracy Press is the voice of the community. Nothing so inflames the passions of the public and inspires a call to action like good community journalism. Public sentiment informed by accurate reporting is unrivaled in its power to change things for the better.
The tall letters on the side of the Press building seemed to me a declaration. Tracy Press. We are here. We are your voice. I never wanted to do anything else.
I spent 18 years in communities around America, but nothing ever touched me so much as one small event last Tuesday. Publisher Will Fleet handed me a key to the front door of the Tracy Press. I had forgotten, until that moment, that I have spent 27 years trying to be worthy of that key. Worthy to represent you.
C.P. Button, Tracy Press publisher in the late 1920s, once said the Tracy Press has faith in Tracy. He was speaking about its potential for growth and vibrant community. Its future.
I just wanted you to know, the Tracy Press still believes in Tracy.
• Michael Langley is the editor of the Tracy Press. He can be reached at 830-4231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.