Break the Chain Ablaze with Patriotism

Updated (9/4/2002) Dealing with the tragedy of September 11 can be very difficult for young Americans, but it is much harder for those who experienced a very personal loss. Here's the story of a young New Yorker who has turned his grief into determination - and he just might succeed, despite the problems with e-mail petitions.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Hello, I am Connor Geraghty, of Rockville Centre, NY. I lost my Dad on September 11th; he was Chief Edward Geraghty, Battalion 9, New York City Fire Department. He lost his life with many other heroes that day, victims of the terrorists.

Firefighters from all over have come to the aid and rescue of the tragedy in New York and Washington DC Many firefighters have lost their lives to save someone else's; the truth of the matter is, they do this every single day. They truly are heroes.

I know many people feel helpless, especially those who live far from NYC and DC We all want to do something, show our appreciation, our support. I think we can...

In honor of the bravery, courage and determination of American firefighters, there should be a day in our nation to celebrate and appreciate their hard work and never-ending passion for saving lives.

I think we should honor all those other heroes who still live today ... please join me. Let's start a petition for a National Firefighters Day.

Will you help make every September 11th "National Firefighters Day"?

Please join me!

Thank you.
Connor Geraghty, 14

Rockville Centre, NY (I Love u DAD!!) ( When this list reaches 250 names, please send it to me at: ceg8587@aol.com )

Please copy/paste this e-mail message body into a new e-mail, add the next number with your name, city, state and e-mail and please pass it along.

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

There are actually several different versions of this petition. It's unknown whether Mr. Geraghty's was the original or if he simply co-opted one of the previous versions. Perhaps young Connor discovered that the original petition's "send to" address was no longer valid and decided to take up the cause himself. But it's this version that has gained international attention.

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According to the New York Post, Connor is real and he has collected more than 4,000 signatures. But it's not the number of signatures that have made his efforts successful. A copy of his plea was read into congressional record on November 14 by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy. Connor has since changed his opinion and would like a day other than September 11 reserved to honor firefighters.

"National Firefighter's Day" has been observed over the years - mostly through presidential proclamation - but with no regularity or federal recognition. Some greeting card companies identify December 15 as "National Firefighters's day. However, it seems it is one of those holidays that was created by the industry and not officially recognized by the Federal government.

One big reason not to forward this petition is the fact that Connor's AOL-provided e-mail account has been closed, so "completed" petitions will only bounce back to the sender. Other versions of the chain have surfaced listing other e-mail address, but we've been unable to determine if these are legitimate. For more reasons participating in e-petitions is a bad idea, no matter how noble the cause, read my primer on Armchair Activism. Break this Chain.

What Do You Think?


References: About.com, New York Post (Archived)

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