A couple of days ago, the Associated Press righted a 67 year old wrong when they officially appologized to their long deceased reporter, Ed Kennedy, for firing him after he reported to the world that the Germans had officially surrendered on May 7, 1945, a day before he was supposed to report it. The US and British governments received the German surrender on May 7, but agreed to let the Russians have a separate surrender ceremony the next day. While Kennedy and a dozen or so other reporters attended the German surrender ceremony, they were sworn to secrecy and told that they had to wait 36 hours before reporting it so they did not steal the Russian's thunder. However, when word leaked out of Germany early that the surrender had indeed taken place, Kennedy decided not to wait for the Russians and he reported the news that the whole world had been waiting for.
For doing his job, Kennedy was reprimanded and fired by the Associated Press. He died in a car accident in 1963 believing that he had done the right thing, but never receiving support for his decision from his former employer. I heard this story on the radio today and it caused me to think about many applications. Kennedy was being true to his craft as a journalist. He did not just run ahead and break the story on his own, but once news was reported from Germany, he felt that it was his duty to tell the American people what had happened. He did the right thing, but he was not rewarded for it. Rather, he was punished. That is usually how it goes, unfortunately.
Everyday, we have the opportunity to be true to our calling and our vocation and craft. Everyday, we have the chance to do the right thing, even if it is unpopular. Perhaps we are to speak out against injustice or we are to push the envelope at work and innovate instead of just falling into predictible routines. Maybe we already know what we are supposed to be doing but are afraid of the backlash if we step out and do it. Perhaps we need to be reporting from the edges and telling the stories that people don't want to hear in ways that those in control do not want us to tell. We might not be appreciated, but we will be right and that is far better. History has a way of coming around.
I had never heard of Ed Kennedy before today, but he became a hero of mine when I heard about what he did. We should all take note and when the opportunity arises, do the right thing at the right time and not look back - even if it goes badly for us.