Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Top five: Salute to Troops

Editor's note: iReport, CNN's citizen journalism initiative, is celebrating its fifth birthday this month. To mark the occasion, we're taking a look at some of iReport's shining moments in a series of top five posts on a variety of topics. Today, HLN’s Grayson Thagard shares his thoughts on the ever-popular “Salute to Troops” series.



When iReport was born five years ago this month, "Morning Express with Robin Meade" was still called "Robin & Company." We had been saluting military men and women on air for about a year. But it was a clunky process.


The very first "Salute to Troops" came in the form of a patch that arrived in an actual envelope. In the mail. I know, right? Pony Express-style! We had e-mail, of course, but no webpage, no Salute to Troops blog, and certainly no Facebook. So when iReport came to us and said, "Look what we can do!," we paid attention.


Not long after that, “Morning Express” had an assignment on iReport where military family members, girlfriends, boyfriends, friends or anyone who knew someone special serving his or her country could go and salute a hero.  Since then, loved ones have come to iReport hundreds of times to praise service members, and Robin has been honored to put those salutes on TV every day from 6 a.m. to noon ET at about 10 minutes after the hour.


There was no way to choose five of our favorite or five of the best Salute to Troops. No soldier, sailor, corpsman or airman's service can be ranked in such a way. Nor can that of any military family member. Luckily for us, there are five branches of the military, and we'd like to take the occasion of iReport's fifth birthday to suggest you spend a couple minutes surfing the salutes for each: (in no particular order) Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.


Do you have someone in the military who you would like to salute on "Morning Express with Robin Meade?"  Here are a few tips for getting your submission on air:


Images: Upload more than two pictures, and make sure they are candid shots (it's hard to get permission to use professional photos on the air).


Video: If you can, upload a moving picture telling us about your "troop." It doesn't have to be fancy, just look into your laptop cam or shoot the video on your phone. (The CNN mobile app is great for doing that!) It's not totally necessary, but “Morning Express” is a TV show, so we naturally like video. Be sure to shoot for at least 20 seconds.


Sound: You can write a script if you want, but don’t forget to smile when you talk. Trust me, it makes a huge difference. Your troop wants to hear a happy you, not a sad you.


Contact: Make sure you leave us a way to get in touch with you. A phone number is best, but at the very least, leave an e-mail address.


Info: Know your hero's full name, rank and unit, and be prepared to talk about why you are proud of him or her (that last part is the easy part).


That's all there is to it. Just imagine how your loved one will react when they see Robin introduce the salute on HLN or the American Forces Network!


Thanks to all of you who have already uploaded salutes. Thanks to those of you in the armed forces for your service. And thanks to iReport for five years of making it easy for friends and family members to salute the troops every day on “Morning Express with Robin Meade.” If you have a salute to share, you can upload it here.

August 10, 2011
Click to view sunethra's profile

God Bless the Troops.

August 11, 2011
Click to view nl20051405's profile

Which comes first, our troops or our countries?

Democrasy from the people cannot solve the problems on the black markets.

August 11, 2011
Click to view MarieSager's profile

These pictures touch my social conscience.

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