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Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

AN OPEN PLEA TO MILBLOGGERS |

June 17, 2009

AN OPEN PLEA TO MILBLOGGERS
Name: Old Blue
Posting date: 6/17/09
Returned from: Afghanistan
Milblog: Bill and Bob's Excellent Afghan Adventure

There is a disturbing trend among milbloggers; they fade away. So many who have written during their deployments come home and eventually shut down their blogs.The groundswell of on-the-spot literature detailing the experiences of so many and giving unique insights into the minds of America's fighting few is as temporary as a Facebook profile or a Yahoo Personals ad. That's a loss, because we few, we happy few, we band of bloggers, are writing history and then deleting it.

Last year I was contacted by a graduate student in history who sought permission to archive my blog. I'm sure I was not the only one. In a recent conversation a friend of mine, Susan, a PhD Professor of Journalism who is fascinated by the phenomenon of milblogging, lamented two things. First, the fact that so many female milbloggers just go away, as they provide a unique insight into a war in which females have shared the burden as in no other. Second, the fact that so many milbloggers cannot find what we decided to call a "post-deployment voice." I know I struggled with this, and a quick check of my archives after my return from the lumpy sandbox will show the struggle. Eventually, I found that voice. Many don't.

Susan also pointed out that there are dozens of Iraqi blogs that are maintained even if the principal author is killed. These are insurgent blogs, and at this rate their history will overshadow our own. Win the war, lose the history. Hey, it's happened before. It's not like there aren't, or won't be, any revisionists out there. Ask a holocaust survivor.

Troy, the author of Bouhammer, and I discussed this as well. He had the same trouble. We talked about the number of blogs out there, some quite popular while the author was in a theater of combat, which just faded away, and eventually were removed from the rolls of the blogosphere. Some of these bloggers had their own domains and perhaps just got tired of paying for them. Some just quit writing, but instead of leaving the blog up they deactivated it or deleted it.

Here is my plea: Don't delete your blog. Please don't delete your blog. Whether you realize it or not, whether you can find a post-deployment voice or not, whether or not you feel that you can share the experiences of being a veteran warrior returning to a country that seems to have forgotten or chooses to ignore, please don't delete your blog. You have written history, and someday there will be those who wish to know what you saw, how you felt, how the events such as the summits, the conferences, the elections, the official high level stuff that others will care to prognosticate, spin, alter and otherwise fold, spindle or mutilate affected you as an entity who wore one pair of boots. Someday your story may affect someone's perception of how the big picture looked, and how your little picture fit into the big picture.

It's bigger than you. If you are paying for a domain and you wish to stop, get a blogspot address and import your old posts. Please. It's too easy.

Every historian wants to be the one who unearths the next treasure trove of long-forgotten letters from the front in an old trunk in an attic. We have done more documentation of this war from the ground level than any other war. Except this war, which has been so well documented via electrons, is likely to be the least well-documented for posterity because electrons fade away or are deleted.

So, from one blogger to another (among thousands of others), please keep your blog up on the net, even if you never write in it again.

Readers, if you have a favorite milblog that has disappeared, put the name and an old link to the blog in the Comments section below this post. We're going to start a list of now-defunct blogs and perhaps we can prevail upon the authors to restore their blogs, if not their voices, to the blogosphere.

Comments

I must search the archives, but I'm thinking of the man whose girlfriend/fiancee took over for him after he was officially silenced. She stopped after a few entries, saying it was too hard. I will post another comment after I find it.

Janet,
You're thinking of Cpt.G and City Girl of "Kaboom" fame. He has a book due out soon.

I must go through my favorites list... Ack, so many mil-blogs, so little time.

Great post, Old Blue, I agree with the notion of keeping their (soldiers/milbloggers) words alive. I'm no historian, writer, etc. but I have often been curious about the human condition as it pertains to American soldiers and have sought out the personal accounts that have been written by the men and women who have fought for this country's freedoms from the civil war, the World Wars, Vietnam, Desert Storm...I am one of those who have wished to know what they saw, how they felt...

Lt G's (now Capt G) "Kaboom" is also a notable and memorable milblog that has disappeared (shut down). I am also awaiting his book. I believe I have all of his posts saved somewhere before it was deleted.

The Sandbox has given this aging (66) left-leaning hippie a view of military life, pre-, during and post-deployment, that I'd never get anywhere else. It's opened my eyes to the variety of thoughtful, committed people enmeshed in this war, and helped me avoid being one of ones who forgets or ignores. I thank all of you for your service, and your willingness to share your experiences. This is an important record, and I second Old Blue's plea -- please keep them up, restore if you've taken them down. The rest of us need your insights!

During the Great Depression, the Roosevelt admininstration had a program going to conduct and transcribe oral history interviews with former slaves, which resulted in a unique historical resource. While the government may not have the funding or inclination for something similar this time around, this situation certainly sounds like a great idea for a grant or some sort of project...tracking down and saving all these blogs, in print or on a server. (Personally, I'm a great believer in print, given light and a brain they always work, but I leave that decisiion to those in the field.) Is such a thing doable and who would be able to?

another great milblog is Rocintes burdens but unfortunately it's discontinued.

Two of my favorites are gone, and it's not because their authors discontinued them! They were shut down by, ahem, "individuals" that had control over them, individuals who are paid by my tax dollar. !!!!Let BT and Lt. G post again!!!! They were doing nothing wrong except chafing the egos of higher rank.

And, in a purely selfish note, aside from the value as history, sometimes when the daemons are circling at 3 am, blogs are the only "friends" who understand; what you went through last year may be just what we are going through now. You may have said just the thing we need to hear. And we need to know what you are doing now, that it did work out, that your life is back to the "normal" of standing by for next, and dealing with day to day ... it is the light at the end of the tunnel when that tunnel is dark and scary.

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