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September 19, 2005
Supporting Our Troops through Soldiers AngelsBy Holly Aho
Often when reading the MSM and other sources of news it seems that our troops aren't getting very much support and aren't feeling the support that we long to give them. It might seem that those that are actively supporting our troops with letters, carepackages, emails and other forms of support are a small section of our population...a more 'socially/militarily conscious' minority. And if your only source of news on this subject is the MSM, then you really never get to read many of the good stories that should be told. (And by the way, there are currently more than 45,000 Angels in the Soldiers' Angels program...and that's just one organization supporting our troops!)
As a Soldiers Angel I get to hear so many good stories that I couldn't possibly share them all here, but I'm going to share a few. You see, Soldiers Angels has a message board (forum type website) for members. Both soldiers and angels alike daily bombard that message board with requests for help, stories that are amazing, and thank-yous, successes, news....you name it - if it's relevant in some way it's on there. While most of these stories will never be told by the MSM, they are worth telling.
From Soldiers Angel Sarah:
Following is a letter I received from the Commanding Officer of a young infantry soldier that I had been writing to and sending packages to in the summer of 2003. He didn't write back too often, but in one of his rare letters he wrote about how great it was to be getting support since his unit had just been "hit" by an RPG and he had lost several of his buddies. He had a close call himself and was very shaken by the experience. He said that getting letters of support had helped him get through those difficult times. In the spring of 2004, I received a note saying that his unit was leaving Baghdad and thanking me again for all the support (he also enclosed a snapshot so I could finally "meet" him).
From the soldiers in the Soldiers Angels program...messages sent to SA on 9-17-05:
"I just want to thank you for all the support that you have giveing us over here.We apperciate all that u have done for us over here. And we all hope that we return home soon."
"Thank you for providing this service for us in OEF!We really appreciate what you do for us."
"I would like Thank You for thinking of us by doing what you all do for us."
"Thank you for being here for all the soldiers here in Iraq we really appreciate it."
"I just want to say thank you for all of your care and support."
"I'm 19 and this is my first time here and am here for 12 months. I love the support from back home."
"JUST THANKS A LOT!"
"I think this is a great program and appreciate all the support from these wonderful people!"
"I just want to say thank you for everything that you are doing because it really means a lot to us over here."
"THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT.WE ARE THANKFUL THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE LIKE YOU TO TAKE CARE OF US WHEN WE ARE SO FAR FROM HOME."
"We know that there is a lot of people back in the states that support us and what we are doing over here. From all of us we thank you with all our hearts! May god bless all of you!"
"I am not quite sure how my soldiers and I got on Soldiers Angels. About 6 or 7 months ago we started receiving letters and packages. It was a welcome surprise to us and one we knew nothing of. We have received letters and e-mails from all over the U.S. With only 4 or 5 months of our 1 year deployment remaining I just wanted to take this chance to say thank you. You are in our hearts and in our prayers. On behalf of my son C (Iraq) my daughter C (Iraq) my section and myself (Big Sand Box). Thank you and God Bless."
I want to add that these are the message from 9/17 alone. Soldiers Angels gets this many and more messages each day from soldiers. So what are the other messages SA gets? Messages requesting support. Why should you actively get involved in supporting our troops? Messages like these (these come in every day):
"This is my second deployment out here and it gets ruff sometimes.Its hard to keep spirits high out here because of many reasons one big reason its hard its because of the loss of friends.I have lossed three friends during this deployment and it is very hard to have high spirts after that."
"please send snacks and letters, we are all trying so hard."
"I truly want to thank you for what you do it is for soldiers like me that you do what you do. I am kind of lonely out here and don't have much family. Anything that you can send from the kindness of your heart would be greatly appreciated. I really love DVD's any type. Once again thank you sooooo much."
"I'm a father of almost two, i have one on the way and because of this there isnt much my wife can send me. Even simple things like cookies or candy. I dont have a large family anyway and most of my family is in the same boat. I'm not sure if there is anything i desperately need maybe just to know that there are more people who care. We hear about the anti-war protests and it doesnt make us feel good. We know there are a lot of people who do care, I would just like to see more support from those people. It seems the ant-war people have a louder voice. I do appreciate the people who do these kind of things and any package or letter is something truly wonderful for everyone. thanks"
"Thank you so much for your kind thoughts and prayers for without them I would not be able to make it. I'm in need of toiletry items such as shaving cream and toothpaste. Any help at all would be greatly appreciated.Thank you!"
"I AM 23 YEAR OLD MALE FROM NORTH CAROLINA. IM CURRENTLY STATIONED IN IRAQ. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEND ME ANYTHING I WOULD APPRECIATE IT. I FEEL ITS AMAZING THAT WE HAVE STRONG SUPPORTERS LIKE YOU BEHIND UP. THANKS!"
But the amazing letters and stories don't stop there! Here's a story of my own... Letters that make it all worthwhile. The good stories, the positive stories, the stories that show support from total strangers, complete civilians, cashiers at the store...the list goes on and on. Here are a few other good stories you should read if you think America doesn't support our troops or want to see how they are being supported:
The links above are just my stories, but I assure you they are but a drop in the ocean! There are 45,000 other angels just like me with stories all their own, and many more stories of my own on my own blog (SAHA).
So how can YOU help? There are many ways to get involved in actively supporting our troops with support they can FEEL. Here are a few:
You can sign-up to write letters to soldiers in need of support by becoming a Soldiers Angel. You can also donate money to SA to support these wonderful projects and operations:
Over the next 2 weeks I will highlight some of these programs with success stories, needs, and other great information. The support of our troops is great, greater than the MSM would have us believe...and it should become so great that it makes more news than the negative stories - out of sheer volume!
Cross-posted at Soldiers Angel - Holly Aho.
Posted by Holly Aho / September 19, 2005 3:38 PM | Permalink
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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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