Posts Tagged ‘Eleven Eleven campaign’

It wouldn’t surprise me, I haven’t seen much new on the site since my previously posted items. As we can’t go anywhere without getting the ball actually rolling on the project maybe some local action is in order. This post has a few suggestions of things you can do to get things started.

Plan A: Talk to the local Schools

If you want to create a generation of people who appreciate Vets and will do so for years, it is necessary to get people involved at a young age. With the advent of the all volunteer army many kids don’t know serving soldiers and may not have a vet in the family. So how do you remind them of their sacrifices. You use what is already there:

Question: What are the reminders of Veterans that exist in almost every town that everybody sees every day but almost nobody notices?

Answer: Local Monuments to war dead and people who served.

These Monuments are solid resources to remind a community both its history and the Veterans who were are part of it. They are in place and ready to be utilized, the problem is to get them noticed.

Why do so few people actually “notice” them? Many of these monuments are from wars long past (Civil War, World War 1, Spanish American War and Revolutionary) and those more recent wars such as Korea, World War II and Vietnam are either retired or nearing it. Combine that with people moving and re-locating and you have a monument where nobody knows or cares about any name on it.

So here is what I did:

I visited the two high schools in Fitchburg (Fitchburg High and Saint Bernard’s Catholic High School) and met with principal of the former and the headmaster of the latter. I explained the campaign to both of them focusing on the idea of promoting awareness through the history/social studies curriculum. I quickly discovered that when you are dealing with professional educators and sharing ideas, they will come up with improvements and even better ideas when simply from the seeds of good suggestions. Here are a four basic projects we discussed:

#1 Assign students to go to a monument and pick out a name, any name on it. Have him do a paper on that person. Where did he live in town? Why did he join? What locations did he visit and or what Actions was he involved in. If he died how was it noted in the local paper? If he didn’t what did he do when he came home? Does the local paper mention him in any records? Does he still have family in town and does that family know their relative name is engraved in stone on a town square or common?

Transform that stone name into the man he was, a real life person who existed and lived in the very town maybe even the same neighborhood that the student does.

From here you can get creative. Do any old letters or photos exist from or to him. If so perhaps the student can make a facebook or twitter page for them, talking about what he did in his own words.

#2 Go to the yearbooks. If the high school existed by 1930 then odds are most of the men from the classes of 1930-1944 served in some capacity. Let the students go into the yearbooks and do a similar project to what was suggested on those men. Some might still be alive, visit or talk to them. Get that living memory recorded while it can be done.

#3 Trace vets within the student’s own families. Let them do a project within their own family tree. Remember this might, be limited by the number of students whose families have newly or recently come to America.

#4: Schools have a National Honor Society Chapter, as one of their community projects they can visit veterans in nursing homes, get some of that living history recorded or involve themselves in the annual veterans activities that your city or town holds.

I also visited the local College (Fitchburg State College) and talked to the president. He also had an interest and suggested activities could be done though the student life office.

Will this stuff happen? They will talk to their social studies and history departments and then we will see.

Plan B: Talk to your local officials:

My state rep goes to the same church that I do. I brought up the campaign and he seemed interested. I also visited the Mayor’s chief of staff who between our first and 2nd meeting was transferred to the local Veterans office at City Hall. Show them the web sites and discuss the campaign with them. See if they are interested in getting involved on the local level. In addition to being a good cause on it’s own they might also decide that it would be a good cause to add to their political resume.

This is where you, like me, might run into some trouble. Money is tight and there are always many different groups vying for the few dollars available. There might also be larger and more influential groups looking to get the city’s attention. After all there are only so many good causes that can be successfully promoted at once.

This is where my inability to get any kind of response or contact from the national campaign stopped me cold. I was able to get a hearing because I either knew or made myself known to the people involved but that wanted to see evidence of the national organization and my inability to get any kind of response from national to my inquires stood me in poor stead. Maybe you might have better luck but it’s still worth the effort.

Plan C: Attend local veterans ceremonies and functions and talk to the people there

If you can get the local vets or a VFW or an American Legion post interested in the campaign then they will have the gravitas to move things on a local level. Soldiers and vets are a group that often spend a lot of time talking to other people in the “family”. If you outside of that family show an interest it usually generates excitement and interest.

Once your local vets are involved then the local institutions will be much more likely to follow.

Plan D: Check with your historical society and/or museum

With tight budgets an exhibit that consists of artifacts that can be locally acquired and pertain to the city or town in question might be just the type of project they would be interested in. Run it by them and see what they have to say.

Again these are all things you try yourself. If the mother organization can take the time to coordinate said activates on a local level all over individual cities and towns, a really big splash can be made for very small bucks.

If you do want to have a go on the fundraising side then try to sell the mayor’s office on the project. You can suggest a goal of say 1100 families giving $11 dollars citywide and it being presented in both the people’s and the City’s name. That might get some coverage and Mayor’s generally like coverage.

I’d stick more with the awareness part but that your call. Keep in mind $11 given once and forgotten is a tax deduction whose paperwork goes in the trash after a few years, an involved person creates decades of real help for those who have given of themselves to protect and defend our nation.

Either way I assure you that if you do nothing, then nothing will get done. Why not give it a go?

Seriously you can’t make stuff like this up:

Top Obama donor and fundraiser Jodie Evans met with the Taliban in Afghanistan on a recent trip there, according to a report by Jane Fonda of a discussion she had with Evans last month. The meeting with the Taliban took place just weeks before Evans was videotaped directly handing to President Barack Obama a package of information about her trip to Afghanistan at a high dollar fundraiser in San Francisco.

Let’s quote Fonda directly:

I sat next to Jodie who told me a little about her recent trip to Afghanistan with an American delegation that included a retired colonel, and member the State Department. While there, she met with people ranging from the brother of President Karzai, Afghan members of Parliament, activists, to warlords and members of the Taliban. Jodie is co-founder of the peace organization, Code Pink, and always willing to go to any lengths to try and find out what’s really going on.

Gee meeting with our enemies when we are at war with them. It looks like Jane hasn’t changed all that much in 40 years. I guess this is the new Vietnam after all.

The fact that I am seeing this just before going to a meeting concerning the eleven-eleven campaign breaks the irony meter and turns my stomach. Our failure to arrest Fonda for Treason 40 years ago is still paying dividends.

Just remember Evans is part of the Obama fund raising crew. Would she get away with it under President McCain?

Never forget we did this to ourselves and as always we get the government we deserve.

Update: Just to clarify my eleven-eleven meetings are all with local people about getting involved, they are not “national meetings” after all I’m just an unemployed tech guy.

Update 2: Gateway had this yesterday and I didn’t see it. Apparently neither did the MSM. (shock!)

Update 3: The president now says he’s restored America’s standing, are we standing up or bowing down. Combined with this I’m in danger or a going Kryten moment. Is Legal Insurrection right that this is his “Mission Accomplished” moment?

Update 4: Finally found an embeddable clip:

My mother’s birthday yesterday, the Eleveneleven campaign, car repairs, doctor’s appointments and the pending end of my unemployment claim is taking a lot of my time.

I know the blogs anniversary is coming up but I have an awful lot on my mind, and I hate to admit I’m been very down on myself that I haven’t risen above the problems.

If you see only a post or two a day for the next week or so that is why.

Veterans Day, a perspective

Posted: November 11, 2009 by datechguy in opinion/news, war
Tags: ,

This year I went to the annual meeting of the Alumni association of my High school. I drove my mother there who went to the same school 40 years before me. Her class was the class of 1942. Just about every boy in that class served in the military and quite a few never made it back.

Because of the lateness of my birth I was surrounded by people who served. My Father Served in the Pacific for 4 years, My Mother’s brother served in Patton’s Army and won the silver Star under fire My Father’s oldest brother didn’t make it home till 47′ due to injury. My uncles and their friends served and when I went places with my father everyone he hung around with served.

Next to the entrance of my church is the Italian American Veterans monument dedicated to the men of the parish who didn’t make it back.

If you walk through Fitchburg you will find about a dozen scattered stones on various sidewalks. Each one has a small 4″ x 2″ plaque on top with the name of a WWI vet who didn’t come back. I’ve always presumed they were in front of or near the neighborhoods where they lived.

Like other towns the primary park in town has a huge monument to those who served in the Union Army. I would go up to that monument and read the name and wonder about those guys who would stand there in a line shoulder to shoulder while people were shooting at them.

There are other monuments. A smaller one commemorates those who served in the Spanish American War and in the Phillipino insurrection 100 years ago. Monuments have gone up for WWII vets and Vietnam vets.

But back to my mother, at a recent Knight of Columbus meeting I sat next to a classmate of her’s and he told me of his time in the Army from 42-45. Because of his fluent Italian his primary duty was that of a translator. I listened to every word…

…I can’t get those words from my class. I graduated in 1981 in a class of about 382, I’m not aware of any person in my class who served (if anyone has I’d love to know Update: There was one: Valerie Jackson) although plenty of my teachers did.

I mentioned the new monuments, other than they day those new monuments were put up and during the small veterans day & memorial day ceremonies I’ve never seen a person looking at any of them. At the veterans day ceremonies other than soldiers and boy scouts there are no young people there.

Fort Devens is a few towns away but is half the size it was and until recently was largely forgotten around here. The Military was once a big presence around here, now the footprint is very small.

But there are glimmers. Two men from our town died serving in the war on terror. If I walk down to Romano’s Market on Saturday’s Josh is usually working in his father’s shop. I’ve watched him grow up. He used to go to my comic book store at the head of his little brothers and sisters back in the 80’s. He is a teacher two towns over. He is also a Captain in the reserves who served both at Gitmo and a year in Iraq. He is likely the only exposure that the students he teaches history in public school have to a veteran who served or an active duty reservist. They sit on his every word.

Today all over the country, particularly around here you can find people who don’t know a vet, who never met someone who served except for maybe a very old man.

I never served, I was the fat boy who went to college I knew what I wanted to do with myself and I did it, but unlike the rest of my generation I had the reminders around me and the fact that I’ve never served has always weighed heavily on me.

Three years ago my youngest had a new friend in 8th grade who came to his birthday party. His father was a soldier who was briefly stationed in my area. We became friends and after his transfer out of the area in July we have kept in touch.

My association with him had two effects, the lesser of the pair was that I who rarely take more than a half dozen drinks in a year drank more in those two years than I had the rest of my life, he was a connoisseur of beers and had all different types.

The primary effect was I attended many veterans events and met more people who served in those two years than I had in decades. I found that the military is still alive and well and is a family that takes care of its own. At his farewell dinner I had the honor of sitting with a colonel, a decorated WWII vet and a Vietnam vet who got 3 purple hearts in under six months, (no it wasn’t John Kerry, when I brought up that similarity I got a look from his wife that is still cutting through me when I think about it.) It reminded me of my youth when I was surrounded by heroes and didn’t realize it.

Dr. Samuel Johnson once had this exchange:

“Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.” Boswell: “Lord Mansfield does not.” Johnson: “Sir, if Lord Mansfield were in a company of General Officers and Admirals who have been in service, he would shrink; he’d wish to creep under the table.”

I didn’t shrink but I felt the way a man feels when his work is being done by someone else, and that is I believe more than any other reason why Veterans Day and Memorial day have basically become retail holidays.

When we see a serving soldier we are reminded that there are a small group of men and women who are doing our work for us. They are part of a community that if you are not a part of it you may not understand.

This has been the price of the all volunteer army that was born in the desperate attempts of college students to avoid service in the 60’s. For decades our popular culture looked down upon these men, our movies have and still paint them as “broken”. Even after Sept 11th our popular culture still never caught up with the average man who recognized that maybe just maybe there is something more to the soldier than someone who is looking to pay for college.

C.S. Lewis once wrote that a man in sin will avoid signs of God because it reminds him of his current state. I think a similar thing has happened to Veterans Day and Memorial Day. We don’t want to think about it, we don’t bother to attend. It is safer to simply shop, because if we look at Veterans Day and Memorial Day for who they honor and what they do we look at ourselves and remember what we have not done.

Today there will be a Mass honoring Vets at my church. I suspect it will be sparsely attended. Later today there will be a ceremony honoring veterans at the local senior center. The fact that it is at the SENIOR CENTER says it all.

A country that is unwilling to remember those who protect it will rapidly become less worth protecting.

Which brings us in a round about way to the eleven-eleven campaign that launches today.1111_logo_blue_url_small.jpg

The eleven-eleven project hopes to change this, to remind people that Veterans Day and Memorial Day are sacred days to honor those who have made the relatively easy lives we live possible. From the site:

The objective of the Eleven Eleven Campaign is simple: to get 11 million Americans to donate $11 to support America’s Veterans.

To reach that objective, we’ve made it easy to give back to our Veterans. Americans can text the word “VETS” to 85944 to donate $10 to America’s Veterans – your $10 donation will be matched with $1 from Beyond Tribute. Or you can give online here.

The money will go to support veterans but if you are in a situation where money is tight there are little things you can do. Today is Veterans day. There is likely some sort of ceremony in your town. GO THERE. See the people there, give that couple of hours. Find out about your neighbors who served.

If you have kids take go with them to a monument and read the names, if they have a school project have them pick a name from a local monument and do a report on him. Where did he serve? How did he die? Why did your town decide what he did was important enough to put his name on the public square forever and why don’t people think so anymore?

I asked my friend who is still serving what can a person like me who never served do for someone like him who has twenty years of time and wounds in his leg from his service? He said just to be there and remember.

And as Col George Connell once said, even if we don’t honor them or remember them they will still serve and protect us.

It’s a small price, are we willing to pay it?

And if we are not what does that say about us?

Update: Forgot to include this video about the campaign:

This will stay on top, I’ll be out today.

Update 2: My wife reminds me that there is one from our class who served. Let me give a shout out to Valerie Jackson, the one who served.