VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.— Those who’ve given their lives fighting for the country will be remembered this week during the Virginia Run for the Fallen.
The 9th annual event honors every fallen service member from Virginia who died as a result of serving during America’s War on Terrorism.
“One of the most important things we can do as citizens is to remember why we live in a free country. The reason is, men and women put their lives on the line and some of them don’t come home,” said Executive Director for Honor and Remember George Lutz.
Runners will take off Thursday morning on a grueling journey by foot from Virginia Beach to Arlington National Cemetery, stopping at designated markers with the names of the fallen along the way.
The hope is that the loved ones of those who never got the chance to become veterans will be waiting at the markers to hear their service member’s name called out.
“Every one of these markers are placed in a strategic location with a specific number and time when we’re going to arrive and that lets the family know that hey, we’re going to be there,” said Lutz.
Around 750 Virginians who died serving from the time of the USS Cole bombing in 2000 to present day will be honored by 20 trained marathon runners, many who are active duty military.
“They’re going to be carrying four full-sized flags: an American flag, a state of Virginia flag, an Honor and Sacrifice flag which honors our first responders, and an Honor and Remember flag which honors our military,” explained Lutz.
Additionally, runners will carry the names of the heroes that they’re going to be reading and and a small set of flags to plant in the ground as they read names off at the markers.
Runners take turns in groups running around 60 miles a day for 4 days before finishing the somber ceremony Sunday afternoon at Arlington National Cemetery.
“We take the time to walk amongst the graves and visit those that we called their names out loud and the family members we know of,” said Lutz.
In the end everyone walks away quietly with a great sense of accomplishment.
Event details can be found on the Virginia Run for the Fallen website.