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May 26, 2008
Spiked at the PostBy Greyhawk
From January, 2006:
Few readers here will forget Robert Stokely's moving tribute to his son Mike. Shortly after we published that the Washington Post ran a piece titled "A Life, Wasted" written by the father of a Marine who was killed in Iraq.
At the time I recall thinking of the contrast between the two stories - and their placement. Probably nothing better defines the divide between the old guard media and the blogs - I would have published either story here. (In fact, a link to the Washington Post story was included in that day's Dawn Patrol.) But apparently the Post is a bit more choosy in what they present.
It seems Mr Stokely saw that Washington Post column too, and submitted his story to them. They rejected it, explaining "we rarely publish pieces that have been published elsewhere or have been widely circulated." That criteria having been met here, it would seem. This will no doubt be quite a surprise to the folks at AP, Reuters, or any other widely distributed news agencies that will - we must assume - soon discover their contributions are no longer welcome at the Washington Post.
Mr Stokely replied to the Post:
If I understand your explanation why you would not print my letter about my son, SGT MIKE STOKELY, KIA 16 AUG 05, IRAQ / IED, it is because my letter was previously used and "widely circulated". First, I am sure that can be taken as a great compliment to the blogs that used my letter - to be known as a wide means of circulation. However, I am curious to know how many times the Washington Post published, most likely front page, the thoughts and views of Cindy Sheehan - probably the most widely circulated and published thoughts of anybody on the war in Iraq, including any parent who has lost a son or daughter?
There's more here. Some folks are considering paying to have Mr Stokely's comments published in the WaPo - I'd say it's perhaps more appropriate to have the Post pay for rejecting a tribute from a father to his son - a son who fell defending their freedom to publish whatever they choose.
Their choice in this case was a perfect follow up to their hit job on Bill Roggio, and as justifiable as their rejection of support for the "Freedom Walk" (according to staffers there: "arguments that the Freedom Walk is anything other than a political activity -- and indeed, a political activity in support of the war in Iraq -- should be put to rest by the prominent participation of country music star Clint Black, best known of late for his war-glorifying song 'Iraq and I Roll.'") and as blatantly obvious as their enthusiastic support (to the point of publishing easily verifiable but false claims about the nature or number of protestors) of the competing anti-war rally that followed.
So help spread the word.
Posted by Greyhawk / May 26, 2008 10:59 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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