Mom Offers Inspiration to Troops

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2008 - The simple request for a "mom hug" from a young Marine serving in Iraq ignited one mom's desire to inspire all servicemembers.

Gail Lynne Goodwin launched "Inspire Me Today," a Web site devoted to inspirational content, just 12 days ago, but the idea had been simmering for years.

"Inspire Me Today was something I've wanted to do. It's been my personal passion, I guess you would say," Goodwin said. "When a person is inspired, the world changes exponentially."

As any good mom might do, however, Goodwin put her dream of launching the Web site on hold to help her daughter, Carly, launch a country music career.

"I took off for about three years from doing my projects ... and managed and directed my daughter's career ... and traveled with her all over," Goodwin said.

But it was really her venture with her daughter's singing career that provided Goodwin with the nudge she needed to follow her dream of starting Inspire Me Today.

Carly ventured out on a 29-day tour of military installations in the Persian Gulf in late 2005. At a base in western Iraq, Goodwin met Jesse, the 19-year-old Marine in need of a "mom hug."

He'd been in country for about nine months when he met Goodwin, and his request for a simple hug moved her, but it was his apologetic explanation for his appearance that stayed with her.

"He explained to me that he was one of 800 guys that ... come in for two to three days at most and then they go back out to their ditch, their post, where he guards his stretch of desert," Goodwin said. "He's out for between 30 and 40 days at a time."

When she inquired how he survived the duty, he simply showed her his MP3 player.

"I'm thinking to myself, 'If ever there was a need for inspiration, if ever there was a place not to be alone, it's right here, right now," Goodwin said. "I came back after Carly's tour (and) ... at that point I started with Inspire Me Today."

Having always been taught to give before receiving, Goodwin and Inspire Me Today's board of directors began the process of deciding which group was the most deserving of free memberships to the organization's Web site.

"I slept on it that night and woke up about 2 o'clock in the morning going, 'Duh! If it's not our U.S. troops, I don't know who it would be,'" Goodwin said. "What came to me is the thought of (Jesse) coming in ... and being able to go in and download countless days of inspirational material so that when he goes back out to that ditch he's not alone anymore."

So, beginning March 15, anyone with a ".mil" e-mail address can register for a year's free membership to Inspire Me Today's Web site. Though content is currently available, daily content updates will begin March 15, Goodwin said.

Memberships allow servicemembers to download inspirational quotes, videos, speeches and other material for later enjoyment. The content, which may come from household names or unknown contributors, will cover a wide variety of topics from health and fitness to finances and relationships.

What it won't dwell upon is religion, Goodwin said. The organization is inspiration-based and will vet all contributions to ensure no one is saying, "If you don't fit in this box, you're going to burn," she said. "You can't do that (and be inspirational).

"Each day we have a choice to go out into the world and be a light or not," she added. "I'm looking at us as going around lighting little candles all over. Those people, in turn, can light more candles until the whole world ends up being a much happier, better place."

Anyone can visit the site to view daily content at no charge. For those without a ".mil" e-mail address, or after a servicemember's initial year, there is a charge to access the archives and download content.

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