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Veterans Day Tribute in Second Life

by Honored Resident Pathfinder.Linden on ‎11-11-2009 10:28 AM

Observed on November 11th, Veterans Day is an annual American holiday honoring military veterans. For the past two years, a group of Second Life Residents has been organizing a Veterans Day Tribute in Second Life as a non-political and educational event to honor all the men and women who have served or currently serve in the Armed Services.  The group also raises funds in Second Life to support Operation Uplink, a non-profit organization that provides phone cards to deployed service members and hospitalized veterans.

The third annual Veterans Day Tribute in Second Life runs all this week through November 14th, and you can visit it here in Second Life.  I had the opportunity to chat with one of the organizers to learn more about the Tribute and the people behind it.  Read on for details!

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(left to right) Pathfinder Linden and Flattop Ewing in front of a recreation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Pathfinder: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Flattop.  Can you tell me about the history of this event?  How did it start?  Where do you see it going in the future?

Flattop: It started in 2007 simply as an event in a club. I contacted a few designers in Second Life and they offered up their skills/services to those visiting the celebration. The event was just that one night, but I received many messages from people that weren't able to attend, all asking if it was still happening the next night.  So we held it again.  It was then that I realized the need for a "community built" tribute to the veterans, in which people across Second Life could donate their time, their skills and talents to a single venue honoring veterans across the globe.

Flattop: In 2008 we had a staff of 6 people, 15 live entertainers and DJs volunteering their time as well as a handful of builders/designers bringing content honoring veterans. Now in 2009,  we have 8 tribute coordinators, over 25 volunteers as guides, over 40 DJs and live entertainers and an ever growing number of contributors throughout Second Life offering their skills building and designing. Through our website, we are able to accept names being submitted to the Veterans Wall as well as providing the ability for a number of US active duty soldiers around the world to be able to listen to the live entertainment and DJs.

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The Veterans Wall in Second Life

Flattop: Where is it going in the future?  Each year we've made plans and each year the Tribute has seemingly had it's own "plan."  It seems to have its own life - it touches visitors in ways and depths we hadn't imagined. From a small area in the first year, to a half sim in 2008, through to a full sim kindly donated by Dream Seeker Estates in 2009. We dream and plan big, but the Tribute dreams bigger!  Next month we start planning for 2010 - four major sponsors, many sponsors prepared to donate their creations for fundraising efforts, two full sims and live entertainment.  All of it is accompanied by the kind donations of so many Residents of Second Life.

Pathfinder: That's incredible growth!  It sounds like you have an amazing team of people who work very hard to make this all happen.  Can you tell me about them?

Flattop: The folks involved in making this happen range from the primary coordinators to the guides that are here to show people around and listen to the amazing stories of veterans from people of all walks of life. The primary coordinators of the Tribute are as follows:

Flattop Ewing -- "I served in the US Marine Corps from 1992 - 2000, seeing action in Somalia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.  My dad and several other family members are veterans of the US Military, spanning back to before WWI.  Being a veteran is one of the greatest honors I have had in my life.  My appreciation and passion for our veterans is something that will always be close to my heart."

wellhung Bagley --"US Navy veteran of six years.  Served aboard the USS Yorktown (CG-48) as well as other duty stations.  I am proud to be a veteran and this tribute is a way for me to be involved in showing appreaciation for all of the other veterans around and for those currently serving to protect the freedoms that we enjoy and sometimes take for granted."

SexySarah Svenska --  "I am the wife, daughter, granddaughter, niece and friend of Veterans.  This is one small way I can do my part to support all they've done to make my world as safe as it can be today."

Wildroses Pevensey -- "My family has a long history in the military. I have been a military wife, not knowing where my husband was sent or when he would be coming home, but knowing that he was doing his duty for our country. I have friends that have been in the military for 15+ years that are still active duty. I can think of nothing better to do than to honor our veterans and let them still in the military know we care and simply say thank you for protecting our freedoms."

Classy Patton -- "My father and my grandfather were both veterans of WW2. Being involved in the Tribute allows me the opportunity to offer thanks to veterans worldwide - their service, past and present, gives me the wonderful life and freedom I enjoy."

Jill Mackenzie -- "My dad served in the Royal Canadian Navy  in WW2, and a close personal friend served in the US Army in Vietnam. Its important to me to give something back to the Vets who served so I can be here today. "

Dena McMahon -- "I am the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, Granddaughter of WWII Veteran, Great-Granddaughter of Spanish-American War Veteran.  I do this to pay tribute to my dad and grandfathers who have served and to ensure those friends I've lost are never forgotten and all soldiers are HONORED for what they do"

Silver709 Darkstone -- "My father served in Korea.  I have been involved with DJing through Second Life to troops overseas for over one year now."

Pathfinder: Outstanding. I can't wait to see what you all accomplish next year.  Can you tell me a bit about how visitors have responded to the Tribute?  What kind of feedback are you getting from the Second Life community?

Flattop: The response is absolutely amazing, to say the least.  We have seen such a wide range of emotion from people: from a wife of a veteran in tears kneeling at the Veterans Wall, to the laughter and joy hearing veterans gathering around telling stories  The response from the Second Life community has been tremendous.  Many different organizations, groups, venues and Residents have opened up their arms and their hearts to the Veterans Tribute in so many ways; from Second Lifemagazines and various forms of media (talk shows, etc) to the best advertising of all.....'word of mouth'.

Flattop: We receive comments and messages on a daily basis from people around the world who tell us how the tribute has touched their lives both in Second Life and Real Life.  One woman said of the Veterans Wall that she is finally able to see her Real Life husband's name on a wall of honor for his service to his nation. Another Resident told us how he is physically unable to attend any Veterans Day celebration or parade in Real Life.  But through Second Life, he can attend the Tribute and connect with people from around the world.

Pathfinder:  Wow. Thank you for your time, Flattop.  I look forward to seeing you and lots of other folks at the Tribute in the coming days.  Here's the main entrance to the event in Second Life.

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The Mess Tent and Dance Floor at the Veterans Tribute

- Pathfinder Linden