|A Stormy Revelation|
(5/7/2003) In a time of war, stories of hope are often hard to come by. When things aren't going as well as planned, tales that show a miraculous silver lining to the dark clouds give us hope. Unfortunately, many of us are all-too-willing to accept them at face value.
On March 25 and 26, 2003, Coalition forces closing in on Baghdad were halted by severe sand storms that reduced visibility to less than 50 feet at times and threatened the effectiveness of weapons. Troops also had to deal with mines in the sand and snipers all the way to the Iraqi capital.
However, the tale of divine intervention above pre-dates the current war in Iraq. It's simply a fluke of timing that the tale should be unleashed on the populace at this moment. While this is a true story from a war, it is not from this war in Iraq. It's transition to the form above took 12 years and encompasses virtually every medium.
Sometime between 1991 and 2003, Singer/songwriter Allen Ashbury included Halt's story in his song, "Somebody's Praying For Me." Halt's tale is just one of three testaments to the power of prayer relayed in the song. It takes some time to get a song written, recorded and released and "Somebody's Praying For Me" was coincidentally released this year and had started getting air play on Christian radio in March, leading many to falsely assume it referred to the current conflict.
One of the many people who thought the tale was a current event was Andy Laurents. He submitted it as a news item for Weekend News Today on March 23, 2003. Melissa Summers, an on-air personality for Christian radio station Praise 97.5, read the story and shared it with her listeners. Atlanta TV station WXIA-TV followed her piece with one of their own. An anonymous author caught the TV program and created the e-mail message above.
Unfortunately, the e-mail chain letter contains a few mistaken assumptions and fateful omissions. First, he or she added the mention of sand storms. There were no notable sand storms in the Gulf War, but they played a very crucial role in the Iraqi invasion. Second, as most chain letters. Later versions lost any identifiable information, such as references to Summers' segment and replaced them with an admonition of the "liberal media," further distancing the tale from reality and detracting from its value. Break this chain.