(12/3/2003) As America's war against terrorism enters its third year, our soldiers once again face another holiday away from their families and friends. Below is one military mom's attempt to take the holidays to them. The effort was real, but has fallen victim to the shortcomings of e-mail chain letters.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
Mother of Soldier asking a favor:
My name is Connie Wells in Lufkin, TX & my son is currently serving with the 10th Mountain Division - United States Army in Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom. I am sending this letter to all of you asking for just your signature and where you are from. His company will not getto be home for Christmas and I would like to send this to him &the; rest of his unit so they know they have not been forgotten and that we are supporting them 100%.
When this reaches 100, 200, 300 , etc., please email it back to me mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for your support. cw
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
"Operation Enduring Freedom" is the name given to America's war against terrorism that began in the weeks after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington D.C. It began with the invasion of Afghanistan and the removal of the Taliban ruling party. While media attention has since focused on Operation Iraqi Freedom (actually part of Enduring Freedom), much remains to do in Afghanistan, and many U.S. and allied soldiers remain there.
Connie Wells told BreakTheChain.org that she started the chain letter above in October, 2003, and has been overwhelmed by the response to it:
"I sent a request to 10-12 close friends who actually knew my son. My intention was to get them to write a few encouraging words, their name, & where they were located - collate that info & send it to my son in hopes that on Christmas Day, he & his unit could sit down & while reading the names & encouraging words, that perhaps they would have a warm feeling knowing they had not been forgotten. The next thing I knew, I was receiving emails from everywhere who wanted to be included as they thought the idea was great. The response has been tremendous - I have rec'd literally thousands - & I'm not even kidding - from over 20 other countries, more individual responses than actual lists."
Wells added that she stopped collating responses on November 24 to allow time for the soldiers to receive them by Christmas Day. The U.S. Department of Defense recommends several means to send greetings to deployed troops, including the VFW's Operation Uplink, Operation Dear Abby, and the DoD's own Defend America.
Despite the long hours of work and numerous inquiries about whether her efforts were legitimate (including one "rude and vulgar" response from someone "explaining explicitly what [she] could do with [her] 'hoax'"), Wells insists the experience has been a positive one:
"I have spent 18-20 hour days working on this for the last 3 weeks. I have made contacts that some may prove to be life long. I have great stories to tell. People have been very kind & through this "project", I have been able to assure that some soldiers that do not receive mail, will not only begin to receive mail but will also be the 'surprised' recipients of Christmas packages."
In general, BreakTheChain.org recommends against providing your personal information via e-mail to a third person to act on your behalf. The medium is simply unreliable. Similar campaigns organized around web sites provide better protection for you and can be updated as the campaign changes or closes, unlike this e-mail chain letter that continues to circulate long after the author has stopped collecting comments. Break this chain.