Fallen Hero/Scandalous Revelations:
As a child I looked upon certain individuals as heroes. It varied from people such as my father, who I saw as a man who could save me from any problem I encountered. I also would look at professional basketball players in similar light, watching them on ESPN and refusing to come inside for dinner to continue perfecting my layups. As I have grown throughout my young adult life, I still look to those older me for guidance and leadership. I unknowingly place a certain amount of trust in each person I value in that regard. When someone of that stature makes ill-advised decisions, the trust is quickly diminished and the whole relationship is in jeopardy.
I began playing the trumpet in the fifth grade. My passion for the art of music grew as the years progressed, and once in high school I was in every form of band possible. Marching, concert, pep and jazz band are on my resumé. I had many band instructors throughout my seven years participating in the program. I developed many life-long relationships with men and women I consider role models. As a junior in high school I had landed a spot in the varsity jazz band, and the group was being led by the relatively new band instructor, Ben Thompson. He was the youngest band instructor the Pella band program had ever employed. It was my first year in the jazz group, and it was his first year conducting. I was skeptical about the “new guy” leading the varsity band I practiced so hard to be a part of. The jazz band season began and the first few practices proved that he was a laid back yet professional leader. He was only 10 years older than most of us so it was easy for him to be relatable.
The beginning competitions allowed for times of bonding between Thompson and us students. Many of my friends and I became close to Thompson as were able to get to know each other better through long bus rides and celebratory dinners at Wendy’s. He was someone that you wanted to be friends with, quick witted with a great sense of humor. The season came to a close and our band came in second place at the state competition. That level of success solidified my trust in him as our director. It is difficult to pin down the exact time that I solidified my trust in him as a role model, but as my senior year arrived I took on my leadership role as a section leader with confidence knowing I had a solid relationship with the leader of the band. It was a trying year, as we had lost many of our main players due to graduation. We all grew together throughout the season, and we bonded through “unfortunate” circumstances.
Thompson arrived at practice one morning and appeared as if he had been crying. We silently sat together as he slowly decided to be inform the band in a moment of vulnerability. He exclaimed that his wife and he had decided to split up, and the reasoning was that she was not wanting to have children. He thanked us all for helping him get through such a difficult time in his life, and at the time it simply unified us as a band. It encouraged us to improve to make things easier on Thompson. The season came to a close, and we finished in fourth place, which was an accomplishment for the trials we fought to overcome. Although jazz band was over, Thompson wanted to have a final meeting with each of the senior jazz band members. It is a moment I will never forget, and I had anticipated the meeting to be routine. I sat down in his office, and after brief small talk he asked me my personal opinion of how I felt the season went and how I felt I led as a senior. I was honest in the fact that I believed we had a successful season, and although I had many faults as a leader I believed each trumpet player had improved. He silently processed my answer and I awaited his response. He nodded and proceeded to thank me for handling the season the way I did. I then received some of the kindest words of affirmation I have ever received. He told me that my leadership was invaluable and that he was incredibly thankful for how I led the trumpet section. Hearing those words instantly made all of the trials I endured in band more than worth it. Those were the last words I ever heard from Thompson.
I had graduated high school and had learned of the news from my sibling who was still attending high school. I was informed that Thompson had cleared his office of his belongs and nobody had an explanation for why he had suddenly left. Of course with any scenario left unanswered, speculations began running wild. Many people came to me, asking if I had any idea what had happened. I was able to give no answer, and simply assumed he wanted to leave but didn’t want there to be a commotion. Eventually people began confronting me with questions they had about speculations that had been growing in popularity. It seemed that crowds of people were accusing Thompson of sexual misconduct, and I spent a year of my life defending him. I would exclaim that I absolutely did not believe Thompson would ever have an inappropriate relationship with a student. The accusations did not slow, and neither did my defense. He was my role model, nearly a mentor to me. I felt like I knew him more than the people who were making the claims about him. I would not back down from what I believed.
It had been nearly a year since the whole process began when Ben Thompson was arrested. He was accused of a pattern of behavior to “groom” a female student for sexual contact. I struggle to explain the level of disappointment I felt at that moment. Not only had my defense of him been futile, but the trust that had been built was instantly gone. I felt betrayed. I was disgusted that he would act that way with a student that was my age, but was also questioning if any of the words of affirmation given to me had any validation. There was much confusion for quite some time, and I am still struggling with the fact that something like that happened with someone I was so close to. Another aspect I was confused and upset with was how the journalist that covered the incident wrote the article.
Having the community realize what happened caused enough of an uproar. What was featured in the article was one of the most eye-opening and appalling things I have ever read. The article highlighted on the actual happenings that occurred between Thompson and the individual, down to the most explicit details. Words such as “fondling”, “breast” and “genitalia” were used to describe their encounter together. As I read the article, I was not concerned that the entire town of Pella now knew what Thompson had done. I was concerned that the entire town of Pella knew what Thompson’s “victim” had done. The name was not released, and hopefully it never will be released.
My reaction to the article was anger directed at the journalist. I questioned why he had to include all of the explicit details, and I did not understand for quite some time. After talking with Anelia, I realized the journalistic rule that no information should be withheld from the public. From weddings to scandalous revelations, anything that intervenes with the law will be highlighted by some form of news. I have a newfound respect for journalists who have to cover unfortunate news like this, it is not glorified but it was has to be done.
I agree that Ben Thompson is a sick man, but I believe there is good in everyone. With professional help I hope that one day he can live a normal life and hopefully be employed. I in no way support what he did, but the man I knew was genuinely kind and had a compassionate heart. I do not regard him as a role model any longer, but I still regard him as a human being. I may never see him again in my lifetime but I pray he arrives at a point of redemption.
1.) There have to be moments in journalists’ lives where they question whether they can mentally and emotionally cover a story. Events that are so tragic and evil that it is hard to even find the words to write about it. I stumbled upon an article on Fox news that I did not want to read about, because I did not want it to be true. The title reads “Arizona mother admits to drowning 2-year-old twins, police say”. The horrendous story was covered by Fox news, and it did not state who the individual journalist was. I do not know if there is a reason for that or if that is how stories like this are handled.
When something as terrible as the circumstance above occurs, my mind races for all of the potential reasons why it could’ve happened. Options such as drugs and mental instability are what find themselves in my mind first. I glanced at the photo of the mother and my mind instantly jumped to the conclusion of methamphetamine. She had the tell-tale signs of past usage of the drug, such as sunken facial features and visible open wounds. As I read further into the article I learned that she takes medication for mental health conditions. I know that mental health issues are not uncommon, but had anyone questioned the safety of the two kids before the tragedy struck? Was this mother in any way capable of managing her well being as well as two young children? This should be looked at for every patient struggling with mental illness, not solely in fear of the children dying, but simply for their safety.
The next statement in the article is chilling. The mother allegedly told the cops that she drowned her two-year-old sons because “nobody loved them and nobody loved her.” I find it hard to believe that those emotions arose out of nowhere. She had to be expressing her feelings over a prolonged amount of time but there may have been no one there to listen to her. She attempted to kill another member who was slightly older but was stopped by another relative. This makes me believe there was someone who could’ve seen this coming before it actually happened, but may have been ignorant until the tragedy took place. I hope that with special medical attention this lady will never be given the opportunity to hurt or kill anyone ever again.
Articles like this make me question whether I could become a journalist myself. Reading the article was hard enough, I can not begin to imagine what it would be like to have gotten the facts and form it into an article. As I have looked deeper into what it takes to be a journalist I am more and more amazed as I progress.
2.) Right as I thought I found the most horrible article I could imagine finding, I see a small image to the side of the article with an even worse title. “New York mom killed baby girl, lived with body for months, police say”. My parents choose to not watch the news many nights, and that used to confuse me. I personally thought that they were choosing to be ignorant, not wanting to stay up-to-date on the world’s happenings. I now have a better understanding on why they make the choice to avoid watching the news. Men and women can do terrible things, and it’s the job of journalists and news teams to make note of it on a public scale. I don’t believe I could do the job. I am sensitive in ways that would restrict me from being able to cover the news the way it needs to be covered. There is no “sugar-coating” in journalism, the facts are stated as they happen. All I know is I have to do a lot of soul-searching if I ever want to pursue a career in journalism. I’d like to think that I could be the journalist that is different, the one that only covers happy stories, but I feel as if that is unrealistic.
I could not believe what I had read. I nearly shut my computer as I read the statement. Being disturbed is an understatement. How could a sane human being do such a wretched and evil thing? Like the previous article, I tried to pin down what could have caused a mother to act in such a horrific way. This time there was no medication for mental instability. The police reported the mother had killed the child shortly after birth, and had held the baby in the home for three months. An acquaintance had visited her home and found the baby’s lifeless body, and an investigation was launched as soon as the authorities were reached. The article stated that there was counseling offered for the officers who had found the baby in the home. I had not even thought of the emotional consequences they had to suffer. It is easy to read an article and simply dismiss it as horrid. Reading an article and realizing the reality behind the situation is scarring, and I can’t imagine what the officers are going through. As with journalism, there is no “sugar-coating” in police work. It requires a certain amount of strength and courage to endure what will be thrown at you in the course of your career.
I have incredible respect for journalists and officers who continually make an effort to keep us safe and informed. I have a lot to think about while I am considering a career path, and as of right now I am honestly discouraged from being a journalist. I enjoy writing and cultural happenings but I do not know if I can handle the hardships of writing about horrific tragedies such as the ones that were featured on Fox News.
3.) Death is an inevitable end point of life. Accidents happen and sometimes lives are taken earlier than expected. It is difficult to understand God’s plan when suffering is all that you feel. I have experienced the lost of a best friend in a car crash, and I still harbor feelings of sadness that I do not foresee disappearing. I did not know that the words of wisdom I needed to hear were going to come three years later at a church service. The words came from a man who had lost his son and two grandchildren in a car accident, and it had happened only a few months before he gave his sermon. Dave Bartlett is a pastor at Orchard Hill Church, and he recently preached at the church service “The Gathering”, where all of Orchard Hill’s congregations came together in worship. It was known that Bartlett would be preaching for the first time since the accident, and was planning on addressing the accident in his service.
Ben Bartlett and his wife had taken their 3 children on a vacation to Florida. While driving on a Florida highway, a pickup lost control and hit the SUV that the Bartlett family was driving. His wife Erin and youngest daughter Kaia survived the crash. The loss was devastating for the family, yet they chose to cling to God. Churches in Florida reached out to the family and tried to help in every way possible. Members of their church family in Cedar Falls instantly jumped to action and also looked to serve the family in multiple ways. This included driving all the way to Florida to drive Dave Bartlett’s car (Dave and his wife had driven down to support the family) back to Iowa. Members also funded 4 plane tickets to get Dave, his wife, Erin and Kaia home on a plane to be with family faster. The family was blessed by many in the Cedar Falls community, and many who participated were now sitting in Gallagher Bluedorn to hear Dave Bartlett preach.
The sermon proved to be one of the most powerful messages I had ever witnessed. The amount of strength and courage it had to take Dave Bartlett to stand before thousands of people just 2 months after the accident was incredible. He delivered his sermon with passion and grace, and i am positive the holy spirit was present in the auditorium that day. The words I needed to hear consisted of the following: “Feeling pain and suffering does not mean your faith is weak. Instead of being angry at God for taking your loved ones away, thank him for the gift of being able to spend however much time you did with them on this earth.” I did not know that I needed to hear these words, but when I did I felt as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I felt extreme pain and suffering from losing a best friend, I can’t imagine what Dave is currently feeling after losing a son and two grandchildren. I am so thankful for the Godly wisdom I was able to experience from Dave Bartlett, and I pray that their family continues to be a blessing throughout this tragedy.
1.) After finding multiple stories of tragedy and heartbreak, I was happy to realize I was able to move onto a more heartwarming subject. I decided to choose stories about heroes and was excited to get going on this course of journalism. I struggled finding many positive stories that had happened recently on Fox news or CNN, so I chose to try other options. I simply googled “Positive News Stories” and SunnySkyz.com appeared on my search engine. I decided to peruse for stories on this website and found many heartwarming and uplifting stories that most likely only garnered attention from local news stations. I also found that not much information was presented for any of the positive news articles, but instead focused on showing more pictures than textual information. I realized that this is the polar opposite of the tragedy-based news stories because reading is easier than actually having to visually see what has happened. For the positive news stories, the text is important but it was more meaningful to see the good deeds in photographic form to deliver a more meaningful message.
The first heroic story I found had the title “Firefighters respond to a heart attack, stay behind and finish mowing the man’s lawn.” Incredible showing of kindness and compassion from a group of men who had already done their most important job well, but decided to help a man who was already in a difficult situation. Obviously there was nobody that had asked them to stick around and mow the lawn, and they did it out of the goodness of their hearts. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article and honestly it lifted my spirits after having to write about the tragic events. I know that many events like this happen throughout many communities but most probably do not garner any attention at all. I’m starting to sadly realize that the phrase “If it bleeds it leads” may be more true than I had expected.
2.) Now in a more positive mood, my faith in my future of journalism is slowly getting restored. I realized that after the few hours I put in finding and writing about tragic events, I had a sad outlook on the world. Switching my search to heroic acts is a welcome change. The next article I found had the title “This hero took a beating but didn’t stop until she was safe. Now, the internet is repaying him”. Maurice Osborn is the hero in this “good samaritan” story. He heard screams from a woman who was being sexually assaulted, and nobody was willing to help her. Osborn jumped into action and literally grabbed the man by his collar and began dragging him down subway station’s until he finally reached the police and turned him in. In turn, he had to receive 6 stitches and has an extremely swollen right hand. In a video interview, he sincerely states how he would absolutely respond the same way if it happened again.
A phenomenon has occurred since the incident took place. The local news station highlighted that Osborne was living in a Brooklyn shelter and was trying to study to become a medical assistant. The news spread like wildfire and within one week the donations have reached nearly $20,000. The heroic act led to the safety of an innocent women and now has opened doors for Osborne that he never imagined to be possible.
After reading the story, my mind wandered and landed on the question, “Would you have reacted the same way to help the innocent woman?” I confidently believe that I would have attempted to help this woman. I am not the most physically strong man, but I know that I have a voice, and sometimes that’s all that is needed. One person speaking out can change the course of history, regardless the scale of importance. I know if I am ever placed in a situation like Osborne’s, I will do everything in my power to make sure the victim is safe. I have a feeling that Maurice Osborne has a very bright future ahead, and hopefully I will be seeing him in the news again soon. Next time he will be the one applying the stitches.
3.) Celebrities are mostly highlighted in the news for their wrong-doings. Not everyday do you hear about all the good a millionaire movie star is doing in local communities. I found an article with the title “Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson spent six months with youth inmates to change their lives forever.” I was instantly hooked by the big name celebrity but was more interested in why he would spend six months with prison inmates. He was a part of a one of a kind six month program that’s intentions were to break down the inmates to build them back up to be better men. As I have seen many of “The Rock’s” movies, I definitely know that he is not a man that you want to upset, and I thought that he was the perfect leader to take hold of these inmates lives and try and change them for the better.
Johnson posted a picture on Instagram six months after the program began. The looks on the faces of the men were that of changed men, and standing in the middle of the pack was a proud leader. Johnson stated that these men were able to stand in front of the judges and their own families as free men due to the fact that they survived the boot camp. The sad aspect of this situation is I would never have heard about this occurrence if I had not sought out to find positive articles. It was in no way a headliner that would be covered by multiple news stations, but it is one of the most inspirational articles that I have read in quite some time. Big props to Johnson for taking responsibility for the lives of mistaken youth, and changing them into solid men.