Growing up with parents who were Salvation Army Officers we would move every 2-3 years so I would always end up making close friends and then having to move cities and start all over again. This was pretty tough on me as you’d always fear getting attached to people and then having to change citys. After moving out and making the move to Calgary from Toronto in 2007 by myself I was hoping this would be my last move.
This brings me to world of Facebook, a lot of people have different views on it but I am fortunate enough to have met some of the most amazing people through “Thank A Soldier” that I wanted to share some of the stories with all of you. Yes I have not met most of these people in person but I do consider all of them friends.
General Rick Hillier – In the four years I have been doing these facebook groups and sites for our soldiers this has been the highlight so far. I walked up to General Hillier and said “Hi I’m Dave Murphy from....” before I could get out my website he said “Oh, I know who you are” I was speechless. Anyone who knows me personally that is not something that happens often
Julian Austin - I first heard of Julian when a friend had posted a song called “The Red & White” on his Facebook page and there is a line in the song that says “Do we take the time to thank a soldier for everything they do........” this song is what gave me the idea to create the “Thank A Soldier” cause page on Facebook thus leading to the 4 million plus members it has today. I have never met someone who cares more for our troops than Julian himself. When he talks about them you can see it in his eyes and he has gone over to play several shows for our deployed troops. I met Julian through two other amazing troops supports Gerald and Angie Koch. These people have such a respect for our Troops like I have also never seen before and for them Support Our Troops is an action not a catchy slogan.
MCpl Jody Mitic – I met Jody online a few years back after I heard about an injured soldier who was training to run a 5KM run. I thought this was the most amazing thing I have ever heard as MCpl Mitic lost both his lower limbs in Afghanistan and yet has never quit. This inspired me to get going and start attempting to walk long distances as due to an injury I suffered in 1994 I was not able to, Jody changed that and I will forever be thankful for the influence he has and will continue to have on my life. I have never met him in person but on April 30th, I will finally get to meet this hero and shake his hand and say thank you.
Kay Kennedy – In April 2007 Canada had its worse day in Afghanistan losing six soldiers, one of which being Pte. Kevin Kennedy. This was the first time I stood on the Highway of Heroes in Toronto to pay my respects to our fallen and soon after this I met Kay on Facebook. About a year ago I almost lost to my job due to a problem I had had with letting drinking get out of Control, Kay and I had a conversation that I will NEVER forget for the rest of my life about her son and how he died so young and would never have a chance to do the things I still have time to do and correct. Kay was there when my coffee4ourtroops website was hacked and shut down by a foreign organization in Pakistan and would not let me quit either.
MCpl Elton Adams – I first heard of Eltons music through Kay Kennedy who told me I had to listen to the song “What A Soldier Left Behind” Elton is a Canadian Forces member who wrote his entire album while on tour in Afghanistan. His songs have reached so many supporters and fellow soldiers and songs such as “Hard” which is about PTSD has helped soldiers come forward to seek help. His song “Miss You Like Hell” has reached military Families around the world.
On December 29th, 2009 we put on a show at the Royal Canadian Legion in Calgary, Alberta during the Christmas holidays and streamed online to members of Thankasoldier.net and bases around the world for people that could not get home for the holidays.
3rd Cav – Canadian Army Veteran Riders – Al Murray Last summer during Stampede I was at the Nashville North when I got a call on my cell from my friend Al saying he was picking me up on his bike to go meet some friends. Little did I know I was going to be taken to a 3rd CAV (Canadian Army Veteran riders) meeting to be made an honorary member. This was truly an honour and it was at this meeting when he had told me about the idea for the bike and I was very excited to see it.
Warrant Officer Al Murray served 22 years with the Canadian Forces and did tours in Cypress, Bosnia & Afghanistan. Thank You for your service and choosing the photo from the main page of Thankasoldier.net as part of your tribute to our heroes.
Murray Marshal – The Father of Sapper Steven Marshall who was Killed in Afghanistan was in attendance at the above mentioned Elton Adams show and I could listen to Murray talk all day about his Son Steven and you can see the pride in his eyes. Murray also created a special tribute to keep his sons memory alive as he took his Calgary Flames Jersey and put his name on it as well as the year he was killed, and his combat engineer emblem on the front with a Support Our troops decal.
I could write up a story about every single family member of fallen soldiers I have come across online but they are all like family to me and have had an amazing impact in my life and how I take nothing for granted and a new appreciation of life. I apologize if I miss anyone but Thank You to Anita Horn, Jim Horn, Jim & Shirley Seggie, Ben and Margie Walsh, Jill Kruse, Samantha Shipway, Michael Hornburg, Angelia Phillips (USA) you are all amazing people and I will always do whatever I can to keep the memory of your loved ones alive.
The Red Friday Ladies – Karen & Lisa – These two ladies are responsible for bringing Red Friday to Canada five years ago this month and also have hearts of gold when it comes to Support Of our troops. They have no ulterior means or out for any sort of gain or recognition for the things they do they just want people to never forget our men and women all over the world.
Hero To Hero – Kevn Mcharg and Liz Jackson – two of the most amazing people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person they run the Hero To Hero program which sends care packages to soldiers but their biggest thing is sending Tshirts from Fire Departments to Soldiers with messages of encouragement on the back, thus the Hero To Hero.
Jason Joyce – US Army – I met Jason on Facebook only during his deployment in Iraq, he was so taken back by Thank A Soldier and all the messages of Gratitude from all over the world that he flew a flag during his deployment in Honour of Thank A Soldier and I have this flag currently in my possession with a plague of certification. I have never unfolded it nor will I and to me this one hit me as it was a group of American soldiers flying a flag for a website and its members started in Canada our site is truly proving that Support Our Troops has no borders.
I have also been lucky enough to meet many people involved with some charities doing amazing things such as Herofund, Operation Gratitude, Operation PTSD, and so many
I guess one of the biggest things to happen to “Thank A Soldier” was meeting Shannon Tweed & Gene Simmons on Twitter. In March of 2010 I started a YouTube project called “The Gratitude Project” in which I requested people from around the world to make “Thank You” sign photos and put them all in a collage in YouTube Videos. The day that I received one from them blew me away and I am very thankful that they got involved.
Over the years Thank A Soldier has won several awards such as “Mashables – Open Web Award for best non profit use of Social media” or a “patriotic site award in 2011 from a Veterans Group in the United states and although these awards and recognition are nice it is not why I do these things. Every time I have ever been on any radio stations, newspapers and so on I always say “We” as everyone that is part of Thankasoldier.net is as much a part of everything as I am. When we did the Gratitude project I wanted everyone to be a part of sending messages of thanks to our men and women serving. Without every person who joins my groups, reposts my messages everywhere, views my videos on YouTube, shares links on facebook, invites people to the Thank a Soldier I wanted to say Thank You.
With running Thank A Soldier I don’t’ stop long enough sometimes to think about all of the amazing people I have met both online and in person and I don’t’ plan on stopping any time soon.
Dave Murphy – Founder Thankasoldier.net