Only July 4th amidst the celebration of Independence Day the hastag #thankyouaaron rocketed up the Twitter charts in the first social media permanent memorial of a fallen soldier. PFC Aaron Fairbairn was killed in an attack on his outpost in Paktika, Afghanistan.
Following the departure of Aaron’s mother, Shelley Masters, brother, Beau Beck and sister, Sascha Davidson via flight to Dover, Delaware to await the arrival of Aaron’s body on U.S. soil, David Masters, Fairbairn’s stepfater, tweeted about the events as they unfolded in realtime.
According to David, “In my family’s absence, I was running ‘Aaron Central,’ phoning everyone I could to report the loss of Aaron. Being the 4th of July, I was unable to contact anyone in person as everyone was out celebrating. All I could do was leave answering machine messages and voicemails.
Frustrated, grieving and feeling so isolated and alone, I reached out to my friends via Twitter… who were also not monitoring their Twitter feeds at the time… but I did get one reply from a stranger that said simply, ‘Sorry for your loss.’
It was so good to have some human interaction as my family was in-flight across the USA, and that simple message touched my heart, and I fell apart. Realizing the reality of what had taken place on this day.
The result was seeing Aaron’s sacrifice honored by so many twitter followers that the hashtag #thankyouaaron reached number one on the Twitter charts.
That evening and in the days that followed, Aaron was featured in major media, newspapers, radio, news and television programs.”
Adam Koeppe says, “I may not remember where I was when Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was number one on the charts, but I will always remember seeing “thank you Aaron” becoming the top Twitter topic. If there had been any doubt of the internet’s ability to bring people together for a cause they believe in, the appreciation of the service of Aaron Fairbairn should eliminate this misconception completely.
‘Thank you Aaron’ was a moment those involved will never forget. In an era where there are few true heroes, the Twitterverse chose to honor the life of a young man. Without the filtering and bias of the mainstream media, the world is showing it’s true heart and soul through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.”
Augie Ray, Director of Social Media for a Fortune 100 financial service commpany shares his personal experience, “I had just come home from a Fourth of July picnic. My mood was happy and
carefree–I’d enjoyed the company of friends, ate well, and lit the fuses on more than my share of fireworks. Then I saw a tweet from someone I follow and it changed my mood instantaneously. Aaron’s sacrifice, his father’s anguished tweets, and the concern of those who are complete strangers to Aaron and David put the day and its meaning into perspective.”