I was surprised and proud when my five-year-old announced that she knew why she had a holiday from school today. While she needed a hint to recall the day’s name, she eagerly told me that it was to remember people who fought in wars, “like Grandpa.” We talked a little bit about World War II, and then we went on our picnic.
But there are many for whom this day is no picnic, and that includes the greviously wounded in Iraq. This year, one Memorial Day campaign really stands out, both for its relevance, and for its use of new media. TweetToRemind is a Twitter-based extension of Bob & Lee Woodruff’s ReMIND.org, which raises funds for American soldiers who’ve been seriously injured in Iraq, as Woodruff himself was while reporting on the war for ABC. The campaign urges a donation of $5.25 or more to support the troops, with the goal of raising a dollar for each soldier serving since 9/11, or $1.65 million, by July 4.
The Woodruffs have mobilized the ABC network, other media heavyweights, rock musicians, and celebrities to step out for the cause. What’s even more impressive, though, is that, in its own words, it “empowers” Twitter users to do what social media is presumed to do best – share what’s meaningful to us and bring others along. The TweetToRemind website asks social media fans to follow it on Twitter, but also to use Twitter or their blogs to answer the question, “Who is your hero?” while urging friends and followers to do the same and donate to the cause through web links and banners. But the most powerful aspect is the campaign’s focus on the here and now. It’s not just about paying tribute to fallen heroes, but about honoring and helping those heroes who are still among us.