TEDxPentagon: What are the Human Stories?

TEDxPentagon: "The Human Stories" takes place Friday November 19, from 10 AM - 3 PM.
Liz Lopez is a social media intern at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

If you browse the listing of TEDx events happening around the world, you can see that each event usually includes a theme that unites the broad range of speakers and their stories. TEDxMidAtlantic asked its speakers and audience, “What If?” TEDxNASA presented its “Space to Create.” TEDxUSC wanted people to imagine “Ideas Empowered.” And so the time came for our team to stop and ask ourselves, “What do we want TEDxPentagon to say?”

The original theme was going to be “The Intersection of People and Technology – A New Kind of Military,” a conference aimed at a generation that grew up with cell phones, computers, and the Internet. When the TEDxPentagon team sat down to brainstorm tag lines for our event, we reviewed our speakers and their speeches to see if it still aligned with our original idea. Some of them indeed fit.

TSgt Stuart Wilson will be sharing his experiences of working in cyber and network security for the Air Force. LTG Benjamin Freakley of Army Accessions Command had a thought-provoking title for his talk, “Technology without people is just (very cool) stuff.” COL Geoffrey Ling from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Program (DARPA), with his extensive background in prosthetics research, is presenting how technology makes the impossible probable.

Technology is obviously a large aspect of our military. But we realized that some talks had nothing to do with technology and gadgets. MSgt Julia Watson will be talking about her time on the Marines’ Female Engagement Program in Iraq, and developing a similar program for Afghanistan. EOD technician LT John Pucillo will be telling us why, after losing his left leg to an IED, he reenlisted back into the Navy. And Sarah Hertig will be sharing her experiences as a military spouse, the unspoken heroes of the military community.

When some people hear the word “military”, they automatically think of guns, tanks, and planes – the awe-inspiring technology that makes America’s military a superior force above all others. What is often overlooked, however, is the common thread that unites our talks and remains America’s strongest military asset: its people.

“The Human Stories” is a theme that gives a living, breathing face to an American institution that is often measured through its number of ships or size of its budget. The enlisted servicemember, the military spouse, and the commanding General all have stories to tell and life experiences to share that some of us can never fully fathom.

By sharing “The Human Stories” with you, TEDxPentagon hopes to reinforce the idea that our military’s strength is not in its physical assets, but in the men and women who continually perform amazing acts of heroism in their own unique way.

This independent TEDx event is operated under license from TED.

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