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September 20, 2005
The Hardest Job - The Living Legends SA TeamBy Holly Aho
Soldiers Angels has a VERY special group of angel volunteers who participate in the Living Legends/Living Trees for Fallen Heroes project. This has to be the hardest job in all of Soldiers Angels - comparing the casualties list each day with the list of soldiers enrolled in the SA program, praying there are no matches...crying when there are.
These angels do more than keep lists and send out living trees to fallen heroes' families. They contact each family to offer condolences, often organize support for those families and offer their shoulders to cry on. Then they purchase a living tree with monies donated to the project, a tree to give to the family - a living tribute to their fallen hero.
If you think it doesn't get harder than that think again. In July one of our fallen heroes was young, just 21, and left behind a wife, a 2 year old child and an unborn son. The Living Legends team went to work not only offering condolences and purchasing a living tree, but finding support for this family through Operation Top Knot to help with the children.
Beyond that the Living Legends team also keeps track of the soldiers left behind, friends of fallen heroes, sending them cards, letters and carepackages to help them with their grief and loss while they finish their tour.
I myself have only met with the family of a fallen hero once, but it was a day I'll never forget, and I can't imagine the emotional stress of volunteering for a project whose sole purpose is to help with the grieving families. However, I am grateful to these strong angels who do, and do it with a passion, love and compassion that knows no bounds.
This is just one of the many amazing projects, operations and teams in the Soldiers Angels program. Right now the need for donations for the Living Trees for Living Legends program is great - and one that cannot be ignored. Above all, in such a time of grief, these families left behind cannot be left to carry on alone, without our thanks and appreciation for their sacrifice. Each living tree costs between $125 - $140.
Here are just a few letters from families touched by this program:
"Thank you for the beautiful Pygmy Date Palm its really nice. I got it yesterday.
Please thank everyone that made this possible. It will always remind us of Joe. I will be place it at his favorite placed in my parents house, a back room where he would love to play his drums.
The Casanova Family"
If you would like to donate to the Living Trees project you can donate online here, or send a donation to:
Patti Bader and The Soldiers Angels
Cross Posted at Soldiers Angel - Holly Aho.
Posted by Holly Aho / September 20, 2005 10:39 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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