Week 2: Pat Martin's Cap and Camera

What is it like to be a war correspondent?

What are the tools a journalist needs?

What are some challenges a journalist faces?



Answers:

What is it like to be a war correspondent?

Pat Martin came to Korea in 1952, after moving to the Far East to be near her fiancée. The people she met there had seen their lives dramatically changed because of the war, and she wanted to help spread their stories to the world. She wrote: “Imagine your present world suddenly drained of all color. Only black, white and brown remain. Take away laughter, music, casual conversations and all the comforting, soft, familiar sounds of your present world. Now set all that remains into motion until familiar objects disintegrate. Take away the sweet perfume of flowers and replace it with the stench of broken infrastructure, open sewers and decay. Overwhelm this scene with military troops and traffic indifferent to anything but their own frantic missions, while thousands of refugee people dart between this traffic in desperate flight, or plod step by step toward hopeful refuge, or simply fall in exhaustion and die. This was the tribal song Korea sang to me on that first day! It is part of the tribal song each of us must sing to our children.”

What are the tools a journalist needs?

In her own words: "As a reporter, I traveled light, carrying only this camera. Correspondents never carried weapons and seldom if ever wore helmets. We wore field fatigues and a soft cap. Theoretically, the blue patch meant people should not shoot at us, but I never confirmed if this theory had been transmitted to the enemy."

What are some challenges a journalist faces?

Pat said, "My only resource is a typewriter and a camera. How can I capture such misery in a single phrase that the world will understand? I don’t even understand it myself." Helping people who have no experience of a situation to understand what it's like to live day-to-day there, the similarities and differences, is one of the primary goals of journalism. But as Pat said, sometimes it's hard to know if you understand it yourself, especially in times of violence and loss. As Pat showed us, it's important to find a way to tell the story that reports the facts without believing you've had the last word.

The Karshner Museum is proud to host the Washington Secretary of State's traveling exhibit, "Korea 65: The Forgotten War Remembered," on display now. Come see artifacts from the people whose lives were changed by the conflict -- in Korea, the US, and elsewhere. Also on display are other items Pat Martin brought back, such as dinnerware made of spent shell casings, as well as her scrapbook, including a photo of her with Dwight Eisenhower.