Our new interview series, After the Victory, highlights Change.org petition starters who have won their campaigns. In our first installment, we spoke with Erin Miller.
Erin's grandmother, Elaine Danforth Harmon, was one of 1,074 women to enlist in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II. When she passed away, the Department of the Army told Erin's family that Elaine did not qualify for military burial honors at Arlington National Cemetery. They did not accept that answer.
After a six-month campaign and with the passing of new legislation, Erin and her sisters, Tiffany and Whitney, won their campaign to have their late grandmother's ashes inurned at Arlington.
It's now been a few months since that legislation passed. We spoke with Erin to find out a little more about her and how she feels in the wake of her family's victory.
1. What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
I walk the dogs, usually around 5:30am.
2. What is the best advice you have ever received?
It wasn’t advice given to me alone, but Nike’s motto, “Just do it.”
3. If you could meet and have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
4. If you could have, be, do anything what would those things be?
If I want to have, be or do something, I make it happen. I don’t think in terms of “could,” I think in terms of “will.”
5. What were you doing the day you started your petition?
Spending time with my family.
6. What was the most difficult thing about running the campaign?
Managing people who were either taking advantage of the attention our campaign was getting or trying to be overly helpful.
7. Describe the moment when you knew you really might make change.
When Representative Martha McSally appeared on the Greta Van Susteren show and said she was going to help us solve this problem, with legislation if necessary.
8. What did you think as you saw your signature count grow and did you look at the comments? Yes, I was constantly refreshing the page to see how many signatures there were and I read a lot of the comments. For the first few weeks, I think I read every comment and “liked” almost every comment. When we started getting thousands of comments in short periods of time (which was great!) it was hard to keep up.
9. What would you like to say to your signers and what is one thing you want your signers to know?
What I keep telling people is that I want to thank them for signing and sharing the petition. It does make a difference. Every time someone signs, it gives support to the people who created the petition, it means one more person who wants to see change. I also tell people that everyone who signed was in each Congressional office with me, helping to show that Congress should support the legislation we needed. Being able to hold up my phone and say “Here are 170,000 people who agree with us” was very useful.
10. What is one thing you would want to share with someone thinking of starting a petition, but maybe they’re feeling overwhelmed?
Write it well, have someone read it over and edit it. Be sure to support it once it is posted by sending it to as many people as possible and continue to support it. Don’t expect to post it and then wait for people to find it. The petition is a tool, but it should not be the only tool they’re relying on.