America Supports You: 130,000-Plus Send Troops Text Messages of Thanks
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2007 More than 130,000 Americans sent messages of gratitude this week to the nation's troops through the "Giving Thanks" text messaging initiative.
The initiative is part of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.
"The 'Giving Thanks' text message campaign has been a wonderful example of how Americans are still passionate about supporting the troops and saying thank you for their service," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communication and public liaison. "Hopefully, our troops serving in 177 countries will have a renewed sense of just how much the folks back home support them."
Major mobile wireless providers, including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile, will provide access to the Giving Thanks program. And, while carriers' regular text messaging rates apply to every message sent through the Defense Department program, there are no additional costs to send a message of thanks.
The text messaging initiative officially began at on Nov. 17 and has received more than 130,000 messages of thanks, according to the tally board on the America Supports You Web site -- www.americasupportsyou.mil.
"We had over 130,000 text messages, which is great for a six-day campaign. But what is also important to note is the reception we received from media outlets, business leaders, community groups and individuals," Barber said. "From major networks to digital billboards in Times Square, each outlet we talked to was supportive of informing people about the new way to say thanks to our troops."
That phenomenon of support began over the weekend with talk of the “Giving Thanks” initiative at sporting events, on nationwide radio programs and even a Sunday news show. Tim Russert, host of “Meet the Press,” encouraged his viewers to text their support to the troops during yesterday’s program.
“During this week of Thanksgiving, let our troops know we’re thinking about them through the Pentagon’s America Supports You program,” Russert said. “You can send your message of thanks by texting to 89279.”
All of the messages received express the sender’s gratitude for the military and the sacrifices the servicemembers are making. Some messages are longer, others are much shorter but just as powerful, like the one from a supporter in Pennsylvania who wrote, “You are heroes of the heart.”
Each message like the one from Pennsylvania will receive a response thanking the sender for thinking of the troops this holiday season.
In response to the public outpouring of support, servicemembers have sent in statements of gratitude as well. Most, like the one from Rick, a Marine master sergeant stationed in Iraq, carry the same sentiment; the troops are glad to know they still have support back home.
Rick wrote, “I’d like to thank everyone back home for their continued show of support for those of us deployed around the world. It means a lot knowing that we’re not alone over here in Iraq.”