One of my friends posted an interesting comment on Facebook yesterday concerning Memorial Day. To paraphrase what he said, he didn’t remember this day having as much significance when he was growing up as it seems to have today. He wondered if social media has given this important holiday more of a voice than what it used to have. He goes on to state that, if this is the case, it is one very good thing in a sea of bad things that social media has brought into focus. Reflecting on my childhood, I have to agree with him. I can recall highlights of a local parade being shown on the nightly news and I vaguely remember seeing ceremonies at places such as The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier but I also don’t remember the patriotism expressed as it is now through a variety of media. I looked on my Facebook page, admittedly not a social media platform that I use a lot (I only have 87 friends and I think that’s too many), and I counted the number of tributes posted to our soldiers and troops since midnight last night. Removing the advertisements, out of the 29 posts from my friends, 9 of these were Memorial Day related. That’s 31% of the posts that I received. Not a bad percentage. Were this many people talking about Memorial Day as a day of remembrance 20 years ago or was it known more as the long holiday weekend to kick of the summer and have a barbecue? My memories trend towards the latter.
Now, our family was not a hard core military family but we did have people that served our country. My dad was in the Army (as was my father-in-law). My grandfather was a Navy man. My cousin also served some time in the Navy and one of my cousins is now actively enrolled in the Air Force. Nobody was a “military brat” but we all knew someone who served or who was enlisted. But, as a kid, Memorial Day held significance because it was the day that the summer pools usually opened and we went to my grandparents for a picnic. As a society, events such as 9/11 and the two recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have rekindled our feelings of patriotism but today is proof that when united behind a cause, social media is very effective and an important barometer as to what is going on in our world today.
For Cam’s story, social media has been the driving force in education and awareness. We understand that the use of technology and the resulting communication avenues that are created are unprecedented. As we wind down Celiac Awareness Month, look at all the things that have come from our social media interactions.
- We just sent in our final forms for Cam’s gluten-free week at Camp Kanata; an opportunity provided to us through a Facebook contest.
- Our magical night at the Final Four with unspeakable compassion from a complete stranger who was sympathetic to our cause above 78,000 other customers. This story was shared by numerous strangers on Facebook.
- The story of Cam’s journey is being read worldwide. Think about that. Growing up, I had a pen pal in France that I spoke with for a summer. Yesterday, my son’s fight for Celiac Awareness was viewed in places such as Australia, the United Kingdom and Bolivia.
- A relationship with a fellow Celiac, who happens to be a professional race car driver, all because of a simple Twitter post.
- Cam being featured in a gluten free calendar. Yep, he’s officially a pin-up at 13.
- Over 500 followers of his story on Twitter in less than 5 months.
These statistics do not include all of the wonderful people that we have met these first nine months in our Celiac journey. For Cam to see firsthand the generosity and good that exists in people has been one of the best lessons to come out of all of this. Yes, terrible things can come from social media and if you take the time to look at comment boards or any application where someone is provided a voice, you can see/read that ignorance is still alive and stronger than ever. But used in the right way, such as with this Memorial Day holiday, what we have access to today can work wonders.
God bless to all of our troops; current, past and future. Know that we appreciate what you do, not just today, but every day.