Posts Tagged ‘Twitter


When you least expect it. . .

Supporting those who fight for our Flag, Motherhood and Apple PieWhile my son was in Afghanistan, the pro US Military Twitter world, an ether community, provided a level of support that exceeded any expectation I could possibly have had, helping me get through an immensely challenging time.

One of the exceptional “tweeters” was ArmyMom101 – a woman by the name of Virginia Rice who lives in Illinois.

She is a prodigious tweeter.  Her “MilitaryMon” (military Monday) and “FF” (Follow Friday) lists of other pro-military tweeters were unsurpassed by any other Military tweeter out there.  The time she spent honoring our troops and our vets, in this 21st century virtual way,  was simply amazing. Her last tweet for the day would frequently be, “I’m leaving for work”, or “I’m going to pick up my youngest from work.”  Occasionally  she would  send me private direct messages with encouraging and uplifting words that seemed to be exactly what I needed to specifically hear that day.

A few weeks ago, after my son got home, she tweeted that she wasn’t going to be online for the next few weeks, because her deployed son was coming home.  Instead of spending time online, she was rightly going to spend this precious time with him.

And then, we saw a tweet that said her son was in a motorcycle accident, with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

And then, he was in a medically induced coma.

And then, her son, her youngest, died.

Wendel Rice was 28.  He was not Virginia’s deployed son, he was the son that she picked up from work.  The son that was home. The one she wasn’t as worried about. The one that didn’t seem to be in harms’ way.

When we least expect it, our lives change.  Those of us over 50, think we’re aware of the fragility of life. We think we remember to treasure each moment, count our blessings, be present to each other.  But we don’t remember. We take our blessings for granted.  And we aren’t present for one another – not like we should be.

Most days, we rush through a litany of urgent to-do’s, that really aren’t all that important.We have the best of intentions, but then we have one more report that needs to be generated, one more basket of laundry that needs to be folded.

We forget to tell one another how much they mean to us.

We forget to squeeze extra hard when we hug each other good bye.

We forget to smile when our loved ones walk through the door.

My heart is heavy for the Rice family.  We are all diminished by the tragic, sudden loss of her youngest son, Wendel.

As we remember him, we vow that tomorrow, we won’t forget.



Tom Friedman let me down

Supporting those who fight for our Flag, Motherhood and Apple PieThis past week-end, fellow Twin Citian, Minnesotan and famous author Thomas Friedman sent out this Twitter “tweet” about his most recent NY Times editorial:

“Why are we here? Who cares about the Taliban?  Al Qaeda is gone. .”

The article focuses on Mr. Friedman’s recent trip to Pushghar, Afghanistan, to witness the opening of a public school for girls. The school was built thanks to the United States Forces – Afghanistan’s effort, the International Coalition forces and the Afghan National Army.  For the most part, our Military built this school with US Taxpayers’ money.

The NY Times article that went along with this tweet was entitled: “Teacher, can we leave now?  No.”  and went on to applaud the productive and important nation building effort that is going on, as part of the long war on terror.

I enjoy reading Tom Friedman’s books and his editorials. I’ve learned a lot from his perspectives. While I don’t always agree with his specific conclusions and recommendations, there’s something to be gained in exploring his suggestions. In and of itself, this most recent article was fine, even helpful. Clearly, the major media outlets, what’s left of them, aren’t highlighting the good our servicemen and women are doing.  Getting the likes of celebrity author, acclaimed geopolitical authority Tom Friedman to acknowledge our Military’s contribution, is, in the least, a first step.

But the “tweet,” this sensational, misleading tweet has me all riled up.

For too many people on “Twitter,” the “tweet” IS the substance – it’s all they read.  They never click on the linked content.  They don’t bother with the “meat” of the issue. I know. I’m one of them.

When did it become acceptable in journalism for titillation to trump substance? Why couldn’t Mr. Friedman have just used his article’s title to get his Twitter followers to read his article?  It’s a great title – and provides a snippet of truthful insight to the content to follow.

I understand Twitter’s need for 140-character brevity.  But shouldn’t the brevity also be accurate? The tweet implied that the Taliban is no longer a threat, that they’re not worth caring about. Yet the article clearly shows this is not the case at all. Quite the contrary, Mr. Friedman’s editorial acknowledges the Taliban goes to extreme measures to ensure girls DON’T  get educated. His article sited the statistics:

  • 640 schools in Afghanistan.
  • 350 schools in Pakistan
  • 80% of them schools for girls.

Burned. Bombed. Shut down.

His words, not mine.

How did it happen that we allow ourselves to be deceived by journalist and the media? When did we stop paying attention to details? Why do we put up with misinformation?

Many of Mr Friedman’s followers re-tweeted Mr. Friedman’s tweets – a few indicated they read the substance, and agreed that we’ll build new thinking in the next generation of Afghani people, village by village, through nation building efforts such as those going on by the thousands across Afghanistan.

Others responded to his “tweet” with calls for pulling out of Afghanistan – completely and profoundly missing the point of his article; certainly, they never read it.

Why does the drive to be a “trending topic” outweigh authenticity and integrity as a writer, as a journalist, and as an expert?

Last week, Walter Cronkite passed away.  During the days surrounding his passing, many, many reporters and journalists in the “mainstream” media, pointed to Mr. Cronkite’s character, his gravitas, his journalistic integrity.

Perhaps Mr. Friedman was having too much “fun”, (his word, not mine) being faried in his Chinook helicopter, to notice the men and women on the ground coming under attack, in this, the deadliest month of the war since our US fighting troops have been in Afghanistan.

Perhaps Mr. Friedman, escorted through Afghanistan under the watchful protection of our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, our friends, our loved ones, our fellow Americans, forgot for a few minutes that the very real Taliban wants the world to be under the rule of Sharia law, where authors and journalists such as he, have no right to free speech, or the freedom of the press.

Perhaps, just perhaps, this blog may remind him to take his tweets more seriously.

I hope so.



Halfway Home

Supporting those who fight for our Flag, Motherhood and Apple PieThis week marks the mid-point of my son’s deployment in Afghanistan.

Next week, we’re on the downhill side.

From the significant to the sublime, there have been a lot of changes while he’s been gone.

Pirates have held Americans hostage; Navy Seals put an end to that nonsense.

Roxana Saberi has been tried and released from an Iranian prison.

Pro-Democracy Prime Minister-elect Aung San Suu Kyi remains a prisoner in her own Burmese home.

The Iranian people have revolted against the nefarious election of Ahmadinejad.

Pork sales dwindled as swine flu crept beyond Mexico.  Pork sales have not returned after the rebranding of swine flu to  H1N1.

General Motors became a government agency.

Super quarterback Brett Favre  became a Minnesota Viking.

Politicians cheat on their wives and on their taxes.

American citizens shake their heads and get back to work.

His mom Twitters – predominantly to follow news from Afghanistan, (;, too)

His Grandma, 85 years old, is now on Facebook.

His sister is officially engaged with a wedding in the works for January, 2010.

He is now both a Captain and an Uncle – his first nephew was born in May.

There have been a lot of changes, but the changes feel normal; they feel as routine as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.

And in this routine,  the interruptions by a counter-insurgency half-way around the world are barely noticeable, drowned out by a celebrity culture and the tryanny of a 24/7 news industry that can’t focus on anything substantial for more than 48 seconds.

The military community and some extended family and friends pay attention.

A number of people Twitter, comment on Facebook, write yet another blog.

But the numbers are comparitively small. Simple to disregard. Easy to ignore.

The complexities of  life in our small, flat, crowded world overwhelm people. We freeze. Unsure of what to do, we do nothing.

And in this frozen nothingness state,  Edmund Burke’s  foretelling words haunt us:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing.

So tomorrow, don’t do nothing. Do something simple, something small.

red-fri-dayWear REDFriday.

Thank a Soldier. Send one a birthday cake, or sign up to adopt one.


Teach your children what the Declaration of Independence means.

Read them at least some of the Bill of Rights.

Get ready to celebrate July 4th, with renewed appreciation for our liberties, our freedoms and our responsibilities to the world.

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