When I was a sophomore in high school in 1997, a teacher showed me Dan’s journal and let me spend the 40-minute period looking at it. I saved up money that summer and bought it from a Border’s, excited to get home and take it out of the bag. I spent hours poring over it, inspecting the pictures and dreaming about what was written on the blacked-out pages. I knew then I wanted to be a part of it, part of what Dan had started to create.
I got my degree in journalism and then a master’s in teaching English as a second language. I took the book everywhere I went–to college, to Greece, to all of my apartments in New York. I now work as an editor in a press freedom organization. I have dedicated my life to protecting journalists all over the world and advocating on their behalf.
I have often told people about Dan’s story and have credited the journal, and his other work, to my career choice. I believe that his art and his vision have shaped generations. I know they have shaped me.