A Run to Commemorate the Fallen
June 15, 2017
Pierce College students and their families are invited to participate in this year’s Memorial Day run hosted by Wear Blue: Run to Remember (WBRTR). It is a national nonprofit running community that helps honor the service and sacrifice of the American military. The run takes place in DuPont's Powder-works Park on Monday, May 29 at 9:00 am, and is free of charge. The three courses are between three and twelve miles in length and everyone is welcome to a shared meal afterwards.
Wear Blue’s mission is to make sure every fallen service member is being honored in this year’s run. Visit www.wearblueruntoremember.org to be paired with the name of a service-member who has made the ultimate sacrifice and run in their memory.
This year, approximately 2000 members of the community will unite to pay tribute to fallen service members who have been killed in action. The streets of DuPont,WA, will be flooded by runners. Most will be wearing the trademark blue shirt with the white foot print, and several will be personalized with the names and ranks of the fallen proudly displayed on the back. The streets will be lined with American flags and posters displaying photos of fallen service-members as reminder of the great sacrifices they have made in the name of freedom.
Celebrating Memorial Day for many people isn’t about three day weekends or barbeques but about grieving and paying respects to their friends, families or fellow soldiers who have sacrificed everything for their country.
“Wear Blue brings healing to me and my family. It’s a grieving process,” said Rachel Elizalde, Co-Vice President of WBRTR says as she talked about her experience with the running group. Her brother, Sgt. First Class Adrian Elizalde, U.S. Army, was killed in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom on Aug. 23, 2007.
Rachel remembered a promise she made to her brother when they lived together before he deployed, “He asked if we could run in a half-marathon when he got home,” she said. “He was killed in Afghanistan before we were able to run.”
It took Rachel two years before she competed in the Rock and Roll Marathon. During the run she saw a group of runners carrying American flags off in the distance. The sight piqued her curiosity, so she sought out the group and discovered the running group that meets weekly to honor the lives of fallen soldiers. Rachel joined Wear Blue in 2011 and has been devoted to remembering her brother through her weekly runs. “Wear Blue is such a welcoming community and has really inspired me and so many others, anyone can join and I encourage them to do so.”
The running group isn’t just for the runners. It is for the community of people that are touched by their stories every Saturday morning. “I am truly inspired every week when I see a mom and her young daughter stop mid-run at her father’s flag,” says U.S. Navy Veteran Alvin Overacker. He is one of several veterans who joins together every Saturday morning along the Wear Blue route in DuPont. They out water bottles, high-fives and words of encouragement; the veterans have been curbside supporting the runners since 2011 and have never missed a weekend.
Overacker, 84, served 23 years in the U.S. Navy and another 18 years in civil service and continues to show his dedication to soldiers by showing up every Saturday since 2011 to support the runners. “I’ll continue do be here, as long as my health allows me to do so and I’ll do what I can,” Overacker shared. He said he finds a sense of belonging at his age and still being able to contribute. Overacker keeps an informal log of the how many runners, dogs and children pass by, the weather and the date. “Wear Blue is a wonderful tribute to those who have fallen and those who participate.”
Fellow Veteran, Paul Knoop served with the U.S. Army for 29 years and continues to show his support to his fellow soldiers by showing up on Saturday mornings. “I’ve been coming here since 2011” he said, “It’s a pleasure that we can do it. It helps us by helping them, the runners and helps them remember the fallen and their friends. It’s an honor being here.”
Stories like Elizalde’s are shared every Saturday morning, rain or shine during the Circle of Remembrance, where runners are given the opportunity to talk about who they are running for and to encourage others to push through difficult times. Runners can grieve openly as they share a moment of silence in memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The streets become a living memorial as family and friends take to the journey proudly carrying American flags honoring the lives of the fallen and the fighting and their families.
Wear Blue: Run to Remember meets every Saturday at Powderworks Park, 1775 Bobs Hollow Lane, DuPont, WA 98327 at 9:00 am. There is no cost to join and refreshments are served at no charge. Blue merchandise is available to purchase and the proceeds go to Gold Star families. WBRTR now has chapters across the United States and everyone is welcome. Visit their website for a list of chapters and upcoming sponsored races. www.wearblueruntoremember.org