Thursday, November 02, 2006

Letters...this one from Laura

Mr. Miner,

My name is Laura J. and I'm an English teacher in northern Minnesota. In the past, I used some of your blog entries in my classroom while you were on active duty in Iraq as my juniors were working their way through American Literature in a war/
conflict unit. It's that time of the year again.

I know that your blog is important to you because if it weren't, you wouldn't be adding posts now that you are out of Iraq. Part of what we discuss in the classroom as we read different soldiers' blogs is censorship and who, if anyone, should have the power to shut soldiers' blogs down. We also talk about whether or not they should be regulated.

If you have the time to answer the following question, I intend to share it with my students. If you were standing in front of a classroom of high school juniors, what would you tell them are the reasons why you blogged about your experiences in Iraq? Why is it important for the soldiers? Why is it important for the American public? How did writing a blog while you were in Iraq benefit you as the writer?

(I blogged about my experiences in Iraq because I felt the mainstream media was doing a terrible job. I felt they were misleading the American people as to what was really occurring in Iraq. It is incredibly important for American’s to be aware of the truth in Iraq. American’s, I fear, don’t understand what is at stake in this war. And unfortunately, all they are seeing of this war is the bloodshed. There are certainly horrific things occurring in Iraq. There are also wonderful things being accomplished there. Objective journalism would be to report the bad in proportion with the good. That isn’t happening. None of the good news and the progress makes it to your TV.

It is very important for soldiers to know that someone out there cares. That someone out there is getting the real story… their story. It is important for the public to get the reality. The mainstream media simply refuses to provide the truth.)

I guess that's more than one question.

My thought is that you could probably write quite a bit about that topic, =
but whatever you choose to write is fine with me. If you don't have the =
time to respond, I fully understand. I have found out, however, that =
unless I ask, I won't ever find out.

Just so you are aware, I do agree that these blogs are important and vital to show the public what the media does not, and that is why I continue to use them in my classroom. It shows the kids how technology is used during a time of war to get things out to the public in a way that has never been done before, and now the government is working on shutting down blog after blog. It shows them a completely different side of the war that they will never see in the popular media, and it gets them thinking. That's what I want.

(Regarding the government censoring soldier’s blogs coming out of combat zones, I feel this is necessary in some instances. Overall, I feel soldiers appreciate this. Being a grunt on the ground, at times your perception of the overall operation is very microscopic. It can be easy to post something that you wouldn’t think could be detrimental elsewhere. While soldiers do have their freedom of speech, their first obligation and commitment is to being a soldier. If their postings start to interfere with their duties or the safety of other soldiers, I feel the government is justified to intervene. I do not believe it is censorship in any way, shape or form. I feel it is appropriate for a soldier's chain of command to monitor their writings while in combat. When I was there, there were no issues. None of this had really been addressed yet.

When I was in Iraq I had one posting that shared too much information. I didn’t even think about it until my team leader brought it to my attention. I wasn’t forced to change anything. But why would I want to provide the enemy with valuable information? I appreciated it. And you will find that most military bloggers do as well.)

I hope this finds you well and anything you have to offer that I can share with my kids will be appreciated.

Laura J.

Laura gives me hope for the future. I am honored to be a part of her class. To her students, I would encourage you to read The Blog of War. It is a very real look at the war from many different perspectives. It is blogging at its finest! Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.