Friday, May 22, 2009

Celebrating a virtual Memorial Day

With the advent of Twitter and other social media tools, it's easy to overlook that Monday is Memorial Day. Like many other veterans, I will be at Fort Sam for their ceremony.

Yet, with Twitter, Facebook and blogging, it's also easy to share Memorial Day thoughts and experiences. This Monday, I want to honor my great-great grandfather Hagen, a union corporal, with this blog.

Grandfather Hagan emigrated to New Orleans in 1858. As a young man, he met my great-great grandmother in the city, and he was also exposed to slavery. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted in the Union Army. By then, he had married my great-great grandmother.

About 18 months later, Corporal Hagen died of dysentery. He's buried in Louisiana at a federal grave site similar to Fort Sam. His military record is not something of note. Yet, his decision to join the Union Army in a pro-slavery state has always impressed me. When my son was born 20 years ago, his mother and I added Hagen as his middle name.

With my son having the same middle name, Grandfather Hagen lives on, However, I am thinking that on this Memorial Day that others who had relatives who served in the military could take a few minutes to reflect with a blog or a Twitter feed about a relative like my grandmother's relative. On Twitter, you could add the hash mark #MemorialDay as a way to recognize those friends, relatives and other loved ones who serve.

Most of us Americans look to this holiday as an extra day off. Yet, we need to take a few minutes to publicly thank those in uniform or those who have served with a prayer or a thought. The many social media outlets, available to us, are a great way to take a few minutes to thank them and reflect on their contributions. If you believe in the power of thanking veterans, take the time to post your thoughts on Twitter with the #MemorialDay hash mark.

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