Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Surprise Birthday and a Memorial Day Mashup

Yep, I turned 41 today.

I helped organized an impromptu tweetup or a meet-up with Orange County's emerging social media community.

The lunchtime gathering occurred in the world's largest overseas Vietnamese community in Westminster, Calif., also known as Little Saigon -- which is not so little any more with its bustling restaurants, markets, coffee shops, offices, doctor's offices, banks, news rooms, entertainment and other cultural centers stretching into three other cities in the heart of Orange County.

These are the folks enjoying good food and good company with their Twitter links so you can follow them: @billrams @DianaWei @SaigonDotCom @RicDizon @MeganEnloe @tbatsjsu @SvenJohnston @TanyaSalcido @TheBigDebowski @TjKeenan @TravelCostaMesa @NormanNaylor @DealPerkOC -- and six others not using Twitter ... yet!

Check out these photos of the group from Tustin resident and social media advocate @MeganEnloe and follow the Twitter hashtag #OCtwEATup or #OCtweetup for future impromptu lunches and events in Little Saigon or other places in Orange County.

As I tried to rush back to the office to address an incident involving a tanker truck fire on the Riverside Freeway (SR-91), the 20 people enjoying good food and company asked me to wait. A birthday cake with candles and a blue Twitter bird suddenly appeared and the group started singing.

I was floored. The kindness of the group deeply touched me because it was much more than my birthday.

May 30, 1969 was among the height of America's involvement with a tiny tropical country in Southeast Asia that many people had never heard of.

The Vietnam War -- or as the Vietnamese call it, "the American War," was raging in the battle fields and in the political forum in the United States. It was a war that changed generations and left 58,000 Americans and approximately 2 million Vietnamese dead.

Why such a grim post on a happy occasion as your birthday? It's simply because my birth date has always fallen close to if not on the actual Memorial Day holiday in the U.S.

I can't help but reflect upon the memories of the people who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation's freedoms.

I can't help but well up with tears at my own father's passing decades ago so that his eldest son could earn the beautiful bounties of America. And I can't help it but try a little harder to do some good in this world.

I want to thank everyone who has made my birthday so special, but I also want to offer my gratitude to all who served to make America and this world a safer and better place.

Please share your thoughts. What does Memorial Day mean to you? How do you celebrate the holiday?


  1. Incredible Ted, simple incredible. The sacrifices made by our parents generation for us; and especially your father is beyond words.

    Live each day to its fullest, as you do, and as we all should. Many others died just so we could.


  2. Wow Ted, I didn't realize and it never occurred to me that your father would have been in the Vietnam conflict. What a life you must have lead in his legacy.
    I love this post. And am glad I stopped by your blog. Your old school chum(Shani Thurston Green)

  3. In the end it is about freedom and remembering those that gave their all so that we could have the possibility to remember them on this day.

  4. Very moving and humbling post. It shows great character to not only see the happiness on your birthday but to also remember and reflect upon the past and all the sacrifices that have been made.

  5. Nice Ted. As a fellow transportation PR professional, I also hope to think we are making a difference behind the scenes in the lives of regular folks. Keep up the good work.

  6. Oh Wow Ted. This is very heart-filled and touching. Happy Birthday!

  7. Thank you, Ted, for remembering those in both countries who paid the ultimate price so that we can enjoy the freedoms we too often take for granted. I am sure your father would be proud of you and would not regret the price he paid for you.

  8. You are incredible Ted. There are no words except that we are grateful to have you as a leader in our community; both on and offline. Happy, happy birthday my friend. Cheers to your best year yet.