When Facebook began producing more than one minute long “A Look Back” movies as part of their 10 year anniversary promotion for users, the Berlin family enjoyed watching the many posted by family and friends.
The videos offered a unique snapshot in the lives of those they knew through their memories shared on Facebook.
What especially caught their eye were many photos that featured their late son Jesse.
John Berlin, who is originally from New London, and his wife Lisa (Largent) Berlin, who is a Vandalia native, quickly thought of how special it would be to see a movie using their late son’s account, an account they didn’t have access to.
He didn’t know Jesse’s password and was unable to access the account after two days of attempts. He also tweeted Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg but received no response.
“He came to me and asked what do you think about making a plea video,” said Lisa Berlin, the daughter of Vandalia’s Gene and Cathy Largent. “I said go for it. He said I think I am, what do I got to lose.”
John went an grabbed a Five Fold Band T-Shirt, a band Jesse helped to form, and made an emotional plea to the camera.
“You ever do something crazy because you just don’t know what to do anymore?,” Berlin said. “Well, that’s what I’m doing right now,” said John Berlin, staring into the camera with moist, teary, red eyes…I’m calling out to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. You’ve been putting out these new movies, these one-minute movies that everyone’s been sharing. Well, my son passed away…and we can’t access his Facebook account. I’ve tried e-mailing, and different things, but it ain’t working. All we want to do is see his movie.”
Several times John Berlin teared up during his 84-second plea recorded on camera.
He posted it Wednesday morning February 5 on YouTube and Facebook. The video taped message went viral by that afternoon.
The social site “Reddit” talked about it on its internet news site called ‘the front page of the internet.”
Later that night, the “Right This Minute” website news service interviewed John Berlin using Skype.
The family also received a phone call that night from Facebook. The person on the phone said a video will be made of Jesse’s Facebook account for the family. They also said it is causing Facebook to look at its own policy and consider a way to make tribute videos in the future for loved ones.
They were also informed that Zuckerberg was going to call their family directly regarding the issue.
After a couple of rescheduled attempts, Zuckerberg called the Berlins early Friday night. He offered the Berlins his condolences.
“He said it made him really emotional,” Lisa Berlin said. “He said it touched a lot of people at Facebook and they’ve decided to make some changes.”
John Berlin apologized to Zuckerberg for not meaning to put him on the spot. He said his reason was a selfish one, just to see his son’s video and how much it would mean to him.
“We’re just so overwhelmed by the love, support, and encouragement we’re getting all over,” said Lisa Berlin. “It’s really a God thing. I just want to say that we serve an awesome God and he’s still in the miracle working business..”
During the last few days, John Berlin has been interviewed by media outlets such as the Associated Press, CNN, Yahoo, KSDK 5, British media, and more.
The plea video has more than 2.7 million views and counting.
“The way that I feel right now is so overwhelming,” John Berlin said on his Facebook page. “I feel so wonderful. God has put me on a journey that I did not want but I knew that all I could do was trust in him and have faith that he is in control. I have no idea still where he’s taking me and my family but I’m going to continue letting him lead. He has blessed me beyond words. I had no idea that my small problem would touch so many lives. I’m truly in awe. I’m so glad that all of you have joined me in this journey. I believe we are all on this earth to serve. If you really want to change the world serve the person in front of you. Through service we can produce great leaders. Again God Bless each and everyone of you.”
Jesse Berlin’s band “Five Fold” has also received hits on its Facebook page.
The group featured Jesse and now includes Ryan Cheney, Matt Benne, Derrick Huskey, Jorden Murray, and Scooter Baggins.
“Two years ago, our late guitarist and brother Jesse Berlin passed away,” said the band Fivefold in a message posted on their Facebook page. “It’s been hard for us, but especially hard for his family. We would like to take a moment to express our gratitude for those spreading the love and message our friend John Berlin has posted on his YouTube account. This movement means more to us than you can even imagine. Jesse was truly a unique and amazing individual. Under all circumstances he always saw the best in people – no matter how they came across. He showed love and compassion unlike no other person. It’s amazing that his story can reach such heights. It’s incredible to see the Berlin family have this moment. So again – from the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank you. The world can be an amazing place if we make the right choices. You all made this happen. You all showed the world how connected, loving, and supporting we can be.”
More on Jesse Berlin
Jesse and his siblings did attend Van-Far Elementary School when he was younger.
His father John worked at Harbison-Walker for eight years as a foreman.
Lisa Berlin said she remembers the night before Jesse passed.
She had been in a battle with depression not helped by the 12 hour shifts she had been working.
After receiving some help for her back, she wanted to spend some time with her son at his band’s practice.
They played the song “Lost Within” and Lisa Berlin said she began praising God, the lyrics were a blessing to her at the right time in her life.
She said she then prayed for Jesse and told him the Lord loves him. She expressed her hopes for the Lord to bless him abundantly and to bless his band.
“I showed him the goose bumps on my arm,” she said. “I cupped my hands to his cheeks and said son when you play the guitar I’m so proud. You move me so much when I hear your music.”
She said she kissed him, gave him a big hug, and said good night. Little did she know that he would die unexpectedly that evening and doctors still have not determined the exact cause of death.
“I get my peace and comfort from (God),” she added. “…I’m going to see my son again soon because I believe we’re living in the last days.”
After Jesse’s death, John Berlin lived out a hope Jesse had to compete in a Tough Mudder contest. John did compete and is now helping others train after the experience he went through to get ready for the event.