Monday, August 25, 2008

Yesterday, Richard and I went to Arlington National Cemetery to witness the end of the Run for the Fallen, a relay that started in California in June and crossed more than 4,000 miles, a mile for every one who had died in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Afghanistan and Iraq. The runners left a marker at every mile commemorating the individual servicemember. Thomas's is somewhere in Colorado. Because there is no running inside of Arlington, the run part actually ended at the Metro stop entrance, just outside the gates. There was a very touching speech from the back of a pickup truck by the young man who organized this (and I really hope there is video available somewhere, there were cameras) who described this event as a living memorial. I liked that. There were tears. There was no pontificating. In this most political of years, there were no politicians.

We all walked into Arlington, to Section 60, where the brother and father of one of the fallen spoke briefly, and a Marine in uniform played Taps. And then we visited graves, leaving
flowers and stones on the markers. Richard and I left carnations on Michael Bordelon's grave, and then visited others whose names we've come to know, or whose parents we have met. Nicholas Ziolkowski and David Branning, Marylanders who died the same week as Thomas. T.J. Barbieri who lived in Montgomery County--T.J.'s anniversary was August 23rd and his marker was surrounded by flowers and pictures. Steven Auchman who was killed in Mosul two days before Thomas. Others whose names we recognized and whose stories we had heard.

It's a difficult thing to do, visiting Section 60. Too many young men and women who could have been friends. Too many grieving families.

Anyway, I encourage any of you reading this to explore the website of Run for the Fallen: They have links to other memorial sites and I spent some time last night looking through them. And if any of the organizers read this, Thank You guys.



At August 27, 2008 at 4:56:00 AM PDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Lee Ann! We are a Gold Star Family from Dickerson, MD and our son Scott is at Arlington too. We were there Sunday as well. It was truly an amazing thing that Jon Bellona and his friends did for the Fallen.
Thanks again! I will put a link in my post to your post.

Ed Kirkpatrick

Proud Father of Sgt. Scott Lange Kirkpatrick
KIA 8-11-2007 Arab Jabour, Iraq, #3685
Bronze Star, Purple Heart, State of Maryland Patriot Medal, Missed terribly

At August 27, 2008 at 11:21:00 AM PDT , Blogger aheartfromtheblueridge said...

I was there, and I haven't found the words as of yet. Days later I still have waves of tears and goose bumps. I met the runners a few weeks back and was able to host them for 2 nights as well as participate for part of their journey, I feel so blessed for being able to hear their stories. I wonder if they will ever truly understand the healing they have been able to give to so many, myself included. What an incredible experience. Thanks to them I now know Thomas. I am so grateful for what the Run for the Fallen has accomplished from the heart. I pray it will continue.

My sincerest sympathy for your loss. I am so glad that you were able to come to Arlington. I wish all Gold Star families could have been there. Thomas, I have no doubt was a truly special man. He has my respect and appreciation. You are in my prayers.

Maryellen, Charlottesville, Va.


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