Form Letters From the Front

Here’s the story of the form letters that have been sent to hometown newspapers purportedly from local soldiers. The Olympian broke the story since they are the paper that received two copies of the identical letter, signed by different soldiers. Searching Google News shows several copies of the letter that were printed in papers but have been taken off the web sites, yet are still in the Google cache: Charleston, WV, Utica, NY, Snohomish, WA.

I’ve seen bloggers that think there is no problem with this, because the majority of the soldiers agree with the sentiment, and only a couple had their signatures forged. I think he is missing the point of this cynical enterprise. When a PR flak composes a letter that masquerades as being from individual soldiers to their friends and family back home, it is counterfeit. It attempts to play on the fact that many people do not support the war, but do support our men and women in uniform and want them to come home safely. Using that affection as a vector for public relations is just sickening. At best, it is fakery and at worst it is a cynical attempt at using our love for hometown soldiers to carry a political motivated message.

The worst part is that now this damages the credibility of individual soldiers. Suppose a newspaper gets a signed letter tomorrow from a soldier saying that things in Iraq really are better than the media says. Will they print it or believe that it is real, or assume it is another PR gimmick? How shameful to trade on the goodwill we have for our soldiers.

This story is also covered on the Daily Kos, amongst others.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.

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