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The email petition might work!

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It’s a rule that petitions via email don’t work, but the petition that Dennis sent me recently just might be the exception that proves the rule.

“I lost my Dad (a firefighter) on September 11th,” the email reads. “Many firefighters have lost their lives to save someone else’s; the truth of the matter is, they do this every day. They truly are heroes.”

The email goes on to suggest that, “In honor of the bravery, courage and determination of American firefighters, there should be a day in our nation to celebrate and appreciate their hard work and never-ending passion for saving lives. I think we should honor all those other heroes who still live today.”

Readers of the email are then asked to join in a petition to make every September 11th “National Firefighters’ Day,” and it’s signed Connor Geraghty, age 14, (I Love U, DAD!)”

On November 15th, shortly after this email began making its rounds through everyone’s inbox, the New York Post confirmed, “Connor Geraghty, the 14-year-old son of NYC Fire Department Battalion Chief Edward Geraghty, who died in the rescue effort after the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, launched the petition to honor his father and other firefighters who have lost their lives at Ground Zero.”

True story, and I bet there’s not anyone who reads that “I Love U, DAD!” that remains hard-hearted enough not to say ‘sign me up!’

Email petitions don’t work, as a rule, for a number of reasons. Mainly it’s due to how they’re designed: “If you’re the 250th signer of this petition, send it back to me.” The resulting response normally overloads the sender’s email server, and the account is shut down almost immediately.

In addition, credit isn’t given for names signed on the petition because there’s no way to verify if the people are real. For example, I get this petition and sign it, “Trish Gannon, Clark Fork, Idaho.” I’m number 223, and because I think this is a good idea, I create another 27 names and locations, then send the petition on. What’s to stop me?

So what position does David Emery, Urban Legends buster extraordinaire, take on this petition? “Due to its rapid worldwide circulation and concomitant media attention, the Post reported, the petition has sparked "an international movement" and won acknowledgement from at least one member of Congress. It's hard to imagine the heartfelt document won't eventually end up on the desk of President George W. Bush himself.”

    While President Bush may well make September 11th National Firefighter’s Day, it’s not likely he’d do so due to unverifiable signatures on a petition. If you’d truly like to support this effort, Emery suggests that “Citizens who back Connor Geraghty's proposal for a National Firefighters Day are best advised to write directly to the White House or their Congressional representatives and say so.” And if you really want to, you can still use email. Go to www.infoseek.com and type in ‘(your state) and government’- the resulting websites will likely include one that lists email addresses for your state and federal representatives.

    Wondering if an email you’ve received is an Urban Legend? Go to www.urbanlegends.about.com and see what Emery has to say about it.


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Landon Otis

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