EDITOR’S NOTE: In an effort for our readers to learn more about who we are, the Richmond Times-Dispatch asked its reporters, columnists, photographers, designers and copy editors to provide a glimpse at why they do what they do and what keeps them doing it.
I first saw the James River on July 8, 1968, walking down Seventh or Ninth street in downtown Richmond toward Main Street from the former Greyhound station on Broad Street.
I’d arrived on an early morning bus from Springfield, having recently and barely escaped Annandale High School with a diploma. At the time, college was not in my future. A short stroll east on Main Street took me to the armed forces induction center where, after half a day of testing, form-filling and examinations, I was sworn into the U.S. Army.
Just 17 years old, I was as young and dumb as I’d ever be. And with assassinations, war, riots and protests, the country was a bigger mess than it has been since. I spent the next few years overseas as a paratrooper. Returning to Virginia after three years of active duty, I was still too young to buy a beer or vote, and a few days after I got my Virginia driver’s license, I received a letter from the Selective Service Administration threatening to arrest me for failing to register for the draft.
The country survived, and so did I.
The Army, for all its faults, was a good place to learn about the United States, to meet, live and persevere with people whose backgrounds were far different from mine. It was also a great place to learn the value of a college education. I got one, became a reporter, and in the strange way the past sometimes turns back on you, I wound up in Richmond again reporting from the same streets I first walked on that warm morning 50 years ago.
I spent many days covering trials in the courtroom of the late U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams, the same courtroom where I was sworn into the U.S. Army.
I stumbled into the newspaper business more than 40 years ago and am still stumbling around. But I love it — I love telling stories and am often humbled and inspired by some the people and events I write about.
Frank Green has been a reporter at the Richmond Times-Dispatch since 1980. He has covered police; local, state and federal courts; prisons; the death penalty; wrongful convictions and statewide public safety issues. He was named the Virginia Press Association’s Outstanding Journalist for 2015.