I’ve been lucky to be doing the greatest job ever (in my opinion) for the last 20 years. But to be honest, when I look back, I don’t think of individual images. I think of moments. Incredible, crazy moments that I’m excited to come home and tell my family about.
Here are a few moments from 2018.
Milwaukee Bucks Media Day
Every year the Milwaukee Bucks host a media day before the season starts. This is when all the players are available. It’s pretty cool. This year, the players were meandering about the Fiserv Forum going from one interview to the next as we photographed them.
I’m terrible at basketball (and pretty much all sports besides running). But for whatever reason I can spin a basketball on my finger. We needed a basketball for a photo prop. I was playing around and spinning the ball when I came upon a group of Bucks who were genuinely impressed by my skills.
Among them was the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. “You should be taking pictures of this!,” Giannis suggested to a nearby photographer. Bucks point guard Malcolm Brogdon and I tried a few times to pass the spinning ball to each other.
This lasted for a few minutes as the Bucks all stood around with smiles on their faces. To be able to say I mildly impressed one of the greatest current players in the NBA with something I did with a basketball was just awesome.
I traveled to Prague this summer to cover Harley Davidson’s 115th Anniversary celebration. Harley enthusiasts converged on the city to kick off the worldwide celebration before heading to Milwaukee a few months later for the main party. One of the first guys I photographed in Prague was native Jiri Rredrag Schon. He was cruising around on his Harley in front of the Holešovice Exhibition Grounds, where the Harley celebration in the Czech Republic took place.
A few months later, back in Milwaukee, I found myself at Veterans Park covering the 115th anniversary party festivities there. As I arrived in my vehicle, looking for a place to park on the Veterans Park grounds, I nearly backed into a biker while maneuvering my car. I parked, got out of my car to offer my apology to the biker and realized I knew him. It was Jiri. The same guy I met some 4,500 miles away in Prague.
We remembered each other. I tried to explain that he was on the front page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Although we didn’t speak the same language, he seemed excited enough to take a selfie with me. I wish I would have done the same.
Stars and Stripes flight
I flew to Washington, D.C. with a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight in November with 145 veterans to visit several monuments, including the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial Wall and Arlington National Cemetery. It’s something I’ve always wanted to cover. The day was filled with emotional moments, but the most powerful stop for me was unexpected.
Between the Marine Corps War Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery, we made brief stop at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. I was feverishly editing images and video for the story and figured I’d just stay on the bus to work through the brief stop.
I thought the veterans would have little reaction to this memorial as it wasn’t connected to their service. Something made me get off the bus and go check it out. The 184 lives lost in the attack on the Pentagon are represented by “Memorial Unit” benches.
As I stood there, looking at the benches and the face of the impenetrable Pentagon, I realized this was the first memorial that I’ve visited that commemorated a historical event of this gravity that actually occurred in my lifetime. Unlike the WWII or Vietnam memorials, which are powerful regardless of age or experience, I was alive on Sept. 11, 2001. This made me realize how emotional this trip must be for our veterans.
Meeting a Brewer
There’s another moment from the honor flight that made an impression on me. Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Corey Knebel was on the flight. He was a guardian to Vietnam veteran Herman Anthony Jr. of Brown Deer. Knebel couldn’t have been nicer. Keep in mind, he paid his own way and lodging and spent the entire 17-hour day shuffling on a bus from monument to monument.
I had some downtime on the bus and was riding a few seats in front of Knebel. My neighbors are huge Brewers fans. They’re a big family with six kids all under 10 years of age. Especially jazzed by this year’s Brewers playoff run, all eight of the Tomczuks, including their dog, dressed up in Brewers uniforms for Halloween.
I showed Corey the photo and he graciously agreed to record a little video message to the Tomczuks. “Hey Tomczuks,” Knebel said looking into the camera with a smile “Thanks for cheering us on. And awesome costumes. Go Brewers!”
I texted the video to mom Lacey Tomczuk. “That’s so awesome that he did that!,” she texted back. “The kids were soooo excited to see it. Isaac’s (the 10-year-old boy) mouth dropped open when he said, “Hey Tomczuks”! A simple eight-second video will be something they will remember for a long time.
Brewers Corey Knebel was recorded in this video message, while on the Stars and Stripes honor flight in November, to the Tomczuks, a family of fans.
Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
I took thousands of photos this year. Not all are memorable. But the images that stick with me are not necessarily because of the actual content in the photo. They’re remembered because of stories like these. I can’t wait to see what the next few decades have in store.
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