I Got The News Today remembers our military and consoles their loved ones
Information about I Got The News Today remembers our military and consoles their loved ones
I dunno carried on the work himself for several years before a team assembled around him; the mission—to memorialize every soldier, pilot, sailor, and Marine killed in the line of duty—has remained the same since April 2004. Though the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq have ended, and the IGTNT stories have grown infrequent, reflecting the decline in casualties, the group’s efforts haven’t ended. The latest tragic deaths of 13 servicemembers, killed in the August 26 suicide attack at Kabul Airport, brought the team back together, to research and compose tributes just as they’ve done for the past 17 years.
“From the beginning,” the group writes, “the Daily Kos Community has made this series a place of solemn respect for the fallen by expressing their condolences with kind words and images. Those who mourn these men and women have, on occasion, contacted IGTNT to express their gratitude and appreciation. This series would have never flourished without those of you in the Community, many of which have supported us from the beginning. We thank you.” Indeed, the comment sections of the IGTNT series have been marked by compassion, condolence, and dignity. It has reflected the best of the Community, and has remained one of the anchors that has tied the Community to our commitments to both the active military, and to veterans after service.
“I am a member of a local Democratic club, and was asked a few years ago to speak at one of our meetings about my activity on Daily Kos,” Jaxdem said. “Of course I had to talk about IGTNT, as it is so near and dear to my heart. Afterwards I was approached by our club secretary, Steve, who looked me in the eye and said, ‘You wrote about my nephew.’” Jaxdem notes that while she had not personally written about Steve’s nephew, her involvement and the shared bond took hold. ”Steve told me his sister-in-law, the Marine’s mother, never failed to look for and read an IGTNT post for quite a few years. Steve and I served on the board of directors of the Democratic Club for several years, and we were much closer as a result of IGTNT.”
“I felt I got to know the precious person who had given their life for our country,” Ekaterin said of writing posts for the series, “and although it could be heart-wrenching, it always felt like a privilege to briefly be part of sharing their story. I sent the link of one diary to the mother of the fallen soldier through Facebook, and she wrote back with such appreciation for the honor we had given her son and all the kind comments from Kossacks. I had a friend who was deployed as a Kiowa pilot, and when a pilot on his team was killed in a helicopter crash, I was so honored to write the diary for him, and to honor him for my deployed friend.” Ekaterin added that she is “so grateful to all the faithful Kossacks who followed these diaries and left compassionate comments for the families of the fallen. Daily Kos is truly a special community.”
“On Dec. 31, 2006, our local news reported a story of a 20-year-old Army Specialist, Capt. John Michael Sullivan, from Hixson, Tennessee, [who] was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.” Sandy on Signal recounts. “[Capt. Sullivan was] just days away from leaving Iraq to be with his wife, who was due with their first child. When the two soldiers came to the widow’s door and gave her the news, she went into labor and a few hours later, their son was born.” Sandy on Signal forwarded the information to I dunno, who asked for her help with the writing of Capt. Sullivan’s story. “He told me how to write and publish these tributes. His words still haunt me: ‘It isn’t the mechanics of writing IGTNT that is difficult, it is the content.’ His words remain true to this day. Every tribute is heartbreaking and painful to research, read and publish. It never gets any easier over time.”
Sandy on Signal and i dunno were joined by monkeybiz in 2007. Noweasels soon followed. There were days darker even than those of April 2004; in the middle of the 2007 Surge, “quite often,” Sandy on Signal says, “one would have a day with eight, 10 and more DOD announcements. We had helicopter crashes with 26 killed—those would be broken into a couple of separate IGTNT diaries. We would all collaborate and pitch in to respectfully cover each one of them. I’m forever grateful for the whole team, who always pitched in … so all were covered. We remain a close-knit group to this day.”
Maggiejean joined the group after attending a Netroots Nation workshop on IGTNT. “Although I was against both wars being fought at that time, I was supportive of the troops doing their best in a bad situation. I thought that, at the very least, I should be part of the team that honored the fallen troops. In those days, there were many fallen and very little attention was given to them as individuals, only numbers.”
For 17 years, IGTNT has cut against the media (and sometimes, the government) impulse to anonymize the military, working to honor the people who gave their lives in service to the country as individuals, not merely numbers. Born of the anger of anti-war sentiment combined with outrage over the callous treatment that servicemembers received from their own government, IGTNT became a glue that cements the Daily Kos Community both to the military and to each other.
“All diaries are difficult to do,” Sandy on Signal says, “but the hardest one which hit home was when my husband and I were at Netroots Nation 2009 in Pittsburgh. My mom called me around 9AM to tell me my cousin’s brother-in-law, Sgt. Bill Cahir, [had] died in Afghanistan. Mom asked me if I wrote about him. ‘No, mom,’ I replied. ‘This is the first I heard of it, but I will.’
And she did, in a special installment of IGTNT. Remembering Sgt. Cahir this week, Sandy reflected on the nature of such enduring losses that families endure, and the rituals we enact to keep our loved ones alive in our memories.
Sgt. William Cahir joined the Marine Corps right after the 9/11 attacks. He worked as an assistant for Sen. Edward Kennedy, [as] a news reporter, and [was] a Democratic candidate for Congress in 2008 in Pennsylvania. In 2009, he was sent back to Afghanistan for his third tour of duty and was killed by sniper fire on August 13, 2009, in Helmand Province. He left behind a pregnant wife with twin girls, parents, siblings, extended family, numerous friends, and fellow Marines. His mother received a beautiful and heart-wrenching letter from his commanding officer, something the family will always cherish. Every year, he is remembered with a shot of Jack Daniel’s, chocolate chip cookies, and guitar music. Just this week, my cousin talked with his father-in-law and Bill’s name came up, for his musical talent. The dad then reflected on what a treasure his son was.
The fallen are never forgotten.
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