Tweet To ReMIND Kickoff Breakfast, JWT, New York
May 20, 2009
I'm not a crier. When I sliced through my thumb two nights ago, I didn't cry, but I almost horked. However, it is guaranteed that when the morning news features a soldier surprising his kid at school with his return, my mouth does that uncomfortable wiggle wobble and my eyes sting with heartache when that kid just bawls with happiness to see his dad (or his mom, but I've only seen the dad surprises) come through the door. Sometimes I have to change the channel, or in the case of soldiers young and old returning with less of themselves that they shipped off with, I turn away. Those soldiers and their families can't turn away or change the channel, it's their lives. And guess what? What lies beneath the physical injuries is the psychological damage. This is why Bob and Lee Woodruff started the Bob Woodruff Foundation and co-founded ReMIND.org -- so that those of us who change the channel don't forget that these people still need help and support after the parades, ceremonies, and hospital stays. This is also why they're using social media channels like Twitter and Facebook not only to get the message in front of millions of people, but also to make it easy to understand and contribute.
Porter Novelli's Lisa Gruber welcomed me with the statement "There is no sausage." No, this was not code for "Al Roker isn't coming." Yesterday I told Lisa I planned to eat my weight in breakfast sausage. That is so off-topic, I'm sorry, I don't feel well. Lining the bar were plastic Starbucks cups filled with mimosas and bloody Marys. Mimosas with a straw!? I wouldn't have been able to stay erect at work!
The first video began. "People don't see it so they think you're OK... and you're not" uttered one soldier as each following frame revealed another veteran getting fitted for prosthetics, learning to walk again, sitting motionless in a wheelchair, disfigured men and women working hard every day to survive after surviving.
I analyzed my own resolve. What would I do in the face of amputation or facial disfigurement or panic and always-on-the-edge fear? I wonder if I am an "always fight!" survivor or if I would crawl into a bottle and just give up. I love the view that Mack Woodruff, the Woodruffs' almost-18-year-old son shared while promoting 525 teens, the teen empowerment focused part of ReMIND.org -- stating that you don't have to agree with every decision of your country. You don't have to support the war, but you have to support the warriors. That's not a political statement, it's a human statement.
The panel was totally unnecessary. Both Woodruffs are passionate enough about the cause and personable enough to stand on their own. Maybe they felt that having two social media types stand with them would lend more validity to their campaign, but again, the message+them is strong enough.
"Internet Geek Girl" Stephanie Agresta added a how-to of hashtags (which, unfortunately, the audience of press needed -- come on, you guys!) and some stats to the equation, while Gregory Galant of Shorty Awards and The Shorty Report infamy took the opportunity to jab the traditional news media and its online attempts with his question of "How many of you launch Twitter or Facebook in the morning before you go to [insert news site]?" I raised my hand, BUT (big but!) I open Twitter to see what people are talking about, but I have NY1 or Robin Meade on at the time. I don't rely on Twitter for a full news story so much as my friends' experiences with their mornings and reactions to the news (or their participation in it). I still know (and you all just haven't admitted it yet) that I will not get a full view in 140 characters. The panel piece was just odd - was it supposed to be an education session or a Twitter vs news media debate? Anyway...
Panel awkwardness aside, the Woodruffs' goal with Tweet To ReMIND is to raise over $1.65 million by 5/25, Memorial Day. They also mentioned a goal of having the #tweettoremind hashtag as the #1 trending topic of the weekend, but that's just a flashy puffy social media goal; if they're the least trended hashtag, but someone dumps 6.5 million into the donation bucket, I'm sure they'll be just as proud. In fact, if that happens I'll be the first to email Lee and tell her that #twitterpornnames was trending high once, so "trending" does not equal success. If you're interested in contributing, you can do so easily: Get the word out by sharing who your hero is via twitter and tagging your tweets with #tweettoremind, donating $5.25 (latte pricing!) to ReMIND.org and sharing with your followers that you donated, including the link to remind.org and the aforementioned hashtag, and by following @remind_org and retweeting shared stories.
Now, get outside for 20 minutes, thank your lucky stars that you can look up and see the sun or complain about the rain, and not worry that on your way to Shake Shack or In-N-Out Burger you might get blown up or shot at, and remember that our veterans went over there, whether they volunteered or honored a contract, and they and their families sacrificed in a way that everyday people like you and me (unless you're a veteran or currently serving!) will never understand.