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May 24, 2008
Remembering RickBy Greyhawk
At work I was talking to a colleague about a story I'd read, a piece on a man who perished in the towers. He was the solider on the front of the Vietnam history "We Were Soldiers." The piece has been going around the blogosphere, and even if I could find the link the site's bandwidth has been exceeded for a while so I'm not sure a link would be helpful today. Anyway. I'm relating the tale, how the man helped to evacuate everyone in his office, and cheered them with lusty old British war songs - and at that point I couldn't talk anymore. That was it. You make some gestures to indicate you've lost your handle for a moment; you turn away and get your grip. Didn't happen when you read the story; didn't happen when you thought about it the other day; but it's happening now.-- James Lileks, September 12, 2003
He's talking about this story, re-posted now for Memorial Day. It's a story that put Mudville on the blogosphere's map while briefly knocking us off the web.
It doesn't matter what you're doing right now. Stop. And go read this biography of Rick Rescorla, one of the greatest American heroes in our history. Rick Rescorla died on 9-11-01, but not as a victim, as a hero, who helped save the lives of 2600 people that day.As of now the story has 60 recorded trackbacks.
Mudville was a microscopic blip among blogs in September, 2003, rarely seeing 50 visits in a day. But I had another post planned for that day, one that I thought might attract a bit more attention, bring a few readers in who would visit and move on. I can't even remember what post that was. Likewise I can't recall when and where I'd first heard that the guy on the cover of We Were Soldiers had died in the World Trade Center, but I knew it was a story I wanted to share. But I wanted people to see it, so I hoped that by posting it at about the same time as that other story it might get a few more "eyes on" than it would otherwise.
Like I said, I don't even remember what that other story was.
I'd had another idea that late summer/early fall. There were a couple dozen military bloggers back then, some widely read, others lesser known than I was. I knew the total exceeded the sum of it's parts. So "what if...", I wondered, "we were all linked somehow..." still independent, but bonded. And offering encouragement and opportunity (and readers) for others who might take up the "pen" along with the sword.
But I was convinced Mudville was too small to make it happen. But then came that Rescorla post, and shortly thereafter I sent out some emails, asking something like "Hey, what do you guys think of this idea..."
So if it weren't for Rick Rescorla, there probably never would have been a MilBlogs Ring.
Thank you thank you for the tribute to my husband. Let us all never forget Rick or what happened to our world on that day. It takes much courage to face evil. You are all heros.I wasn't ready for that comment. I expected some from Rick's fellow Cav guys - Wallace Craig had told me he was going to spread the word, but this one hit me in much the same way the original post did James Lileks.
I sent Mrs Rescorla an email, and she replied. She's an incredible lady, and before long she had sent me a box full of autographed copies of the book Heart of a Soldier. Mrs G and I were in Germany at the time, living in a small village near Landstuhl medical center, where the wounded from Afghanistan and Iraq are sent for initial treatment. And before long those books were making it into the hands of wounded troops who were passing through.
Something he did ask me to blog about was CPT Jason Spencer, Chuck's XO. Because Chuck was wearing heavy Kevlar armor, he went bottoms up in the canal, and was drowning, Jason dove into the canal to save him, only to find himself in the same predicament as Chuck and almost drowning himself, but he managed to muscle himself upward to then help pull Chuck ashore. This man is a hero and Chuck wanted me to spread the word on this.Many people are.
If there hadn't been a MilBlogs Ring, it's likely Chuck would have come home unknown to all but his family and friends. If there hadn't been a MilBlogs Ring the VALOUR-IT program might never have been launched. If it weren't for Rick Rescorla, there probably wouldn't be a MilBlogs Ring.
In spite of that, in some ways that story didn't accomplish one thing I'd hoped.
Listen to the man and then you can add your signature to an online petition calling on the President to award the Medal of Freedom to Rick Rescorla.You can still do that - and join the 30204 who have thus far. Maybe some day that medal will be awarded.
By April, 2006 the statue was unveiled.
Other folks attended, too
CSM Plumley, General Moore, and Joe Galloway:
I think this story will continue. In the meantime, Heart of a Soldier is still available.
As is the The Man Who Predicted 9/11 DVD
Posted by Greyhawk / May 24, 2008 7:40 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...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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