| WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2007 Since 6 a.m. Nov. 17, thousands of Americans across the country paused to text a message of gratitude to the nations servicemembers for their sacrifices through the Giving Thanks text messaging program.
It already feels like a terrific, successful campaign, because from the thousands and thousands of messages that have come in already, were seeing that the American people really just want a chance to say Thanks, said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communication and public liaison, of the America Supports You initiative.
America Supports You is a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.
The Giving Thanks text messaging initiative, which officially began at 6 a.m. Nov. 17, and ends at midnight PST, Nov. 22, already has received more than 40,000 messages of thanks, according to the tally board on the America Supports You Web site.
I think we got off to a great start, Barber said, adding that she thinks the desire to thank the troops will spread throughout the public in the coming days. What youll see over the next several days is that more and more people will be looking at how to let Americans know how to text message and thank our troops.
That phenomenon began over the weekend with talk of the Giving Thanks program 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 yesterdays program.
During this week of Thanksgiving, let our troops know were thinking about them through the Pentagons America Supports You program, Russert said. You can send your message of thanks by texting to 89279.
All of the messages received express the senders 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, Id 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 were not alone over here in Iraq.
Barber said her goal is to give everyone in the country who has the ability to send text messages the opportunity to send in a message like the supporter from Pennsylvania.
Thats a pretty big goal, she said. If we can find and maximize every opportunity to invite people to text our troops, and to have them invite their friends (to do the same), thatll be success for us.
Major mobile wireless providers, including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile, will provide access to the Giving Thanks program.