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NewsNation Army veteran correspondent reflects on service and Memorial Day

Nick Smith is Morning in America’s Midwest correspondent for NewsNation. But before he was lighting up our televisions, he was a soldier.
Jessica Manfre Avatar

Nick Smith is Morning in America’s Midwest correspondent for NewsNation. But before he was lighting up our televisions with his smile, he was a soldier. 

Growing up outside Chicago, Smith didn’t really have a plan after completing high school. “I grew up in Phoenix, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago with my mom as an only child. I completed high school a year early in 1986 and enlisted in the United States Army,” he explained. “My decision to join was twofold, really. I didn’t really have a plan after high school and was itching to leave my small town and “see the world.”

After enlisting, finishing boot camp and his initial training, he was a soldier and an “81E”, better known as an Illustrator. He’d spend the majority of his time in the Army stationed in Germany.

“I learned to make graphs, charts and other training aids. It was also here where I learned to edit and work with video,” Smith shared. “At the time, we were working with three quarter inch tape and editing in a linear fashion, tape-to-tape. Which is literally like a dinosaur by today’s standards.”

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Smith left active-duty in 1991 and completed two years in the reserves before hanging up his uniform all together. His work in the Army would set the stage for his future and it was around this time that his interest in production and TV work was sparked. 

“I used my GI Bill to go to college and eventually started working in TV News. My military service changed me because it changed my outlook on life by opening so many social and cultural doors,” Smith said. “I was immersed in a military community as rich and diverse as our country itself.”

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After leaving the military he attended the University of California, Berkeley, for his undergraduate degree and then graduated from Emerson College in Boston with his master’s degree. Since completing his education Smith has worked as an anchor in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and even in Philadelphia as a field correspondent for ABC News.

There are a few things you may not guess about this veteran and well-known news correspondent. He’s addicted to jump rope and once was a singer in a Gospel choir. But it’s the final fun fact that warms the heart. 

“The scene in Forrest Gump when he gets on the school bus for the first time and Jenny says, ‘…you can sit here if you want.’ And he says, ‘I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life,’ still makes me cry,” he smiled. 

As the nation gathers together to recognize and honor the fallen on Memorial Day, it’s personal for him. He also has an important message for those gathered around together contemplating the meaning of the solemn day. 

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Courtesy photo

“Memorial Day, for me, is one of the best opportunities to remind friends, colleagues and strangers with whom I interact, the value of service to our country. The men and women who have raised their hand, sworn an oath to the Constitution and have made the conscious decision to defend the freedoms of each and every American, including but not limited to, those with whom they may not agree, are a special and rarefied breed,” Smith shared. “Their sacrifice allows us to engage our activism, creativity and religious freedoms with the full protection that built America. I wish more people knew the value of service to country and others. I am truly blessed.”