Story and photo by Kaylie Ractliffe
The long-awaited Falls City stop on the Run for the Fallen tour brought an audience from the tri-state area to Veterans Memorial Park on Tues., June 5.
The event kicked off with a welcome address by master of ceremonies June Bowers, followed by words from Mayor Jerry Oliver.
Pastor Andrew Chavanak led a prayer before the presentation of the colors by the Falls City Ceremonial Honor Guard and Legion Riders. Anne Crofford performed the National Anthem.
Honor and Remember founder George Lutz addressed the audience and gave a recap of the run as of day 60 of the 120-day journey.
“Here we are, right now, smack dab in the middle of a five-month journey through 19 states, over 6,100 miles,” Lutz said. “And every day, we call out loud the name of one or more [fallen soldiers] at every mile.”
Members of the National Run Team stood to read the names of the 148 fallen heroes that were honored over that day’s 52-mile stretch of the run. Lutz reminded audience members to think of each name as a member of their own families as they were read out loud. He stressed the importance of ensuring each fallen hero is remembered by name.
Five Gold Star families were then presented Honor and Remember flags that listed their loved ones’ rank, name, date of death and the country in which they were killed. Flags were presented to the families of USMC Pvt Carl R. Marrs, Army SP5 Gary W. Dunn, USMC Cpl Adrian Robles, Army SPC Matthew H. Walker, and USAF Cpl Bernard R. Portrey. Audience members were then encouraged to call out the names of fallen soldiers in their own families so that they could be recognized.
The event closed with a performance of “America the Beautiful” by Crofford, retiring the colors, a closing prayer by Chavanak and closing comments by Bowers.