This year, Indiana’s sixth annual Run For The Fallen did not let COVID-19 get the best of it. In the past, this tribute has always been a 140-mile run from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis, via Portland, over a three-day period in early May with 20 runners. The event still took place this year, just sub-divided into five separate “socially-distanced” runs of mostly veterans, which took place in Crown Point, Ferdinand, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and Portland. I felt honored to be among eight runners in Portland on May 9. Runners ranged in age from 56 to a 17-year-old junior from South Adams High School, who has already enlisted in the Indiana National Guard, and departs for basic training at Fort Benning, GA on June 3.
We took turns running with the American flag, Indiana flag, and the Honor and Remember Indiana Military Fallen Heroes flag, some 15½ miles throughout Portland’s parks, streets, and trails. Every mile or so, we stopped, read the names of, and saluted, four or five Indiana soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marines, all of whom died as a result of the Global War on Terror.
The highlight of the day took place at noon at Portland’s Freedom Park. There, we presented the Honor & Remember personalized flag to the parents of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Andrew Whitacre, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008. His name is inscribed on a monument in Freedom Park showing the names of all Jay County residents who have fallen in our country’s wars.
Indiana’s Run For The Fallen would not have been possible without its organizers, Don Finnegan of Muncie, who serves as state director of Indiana Run for the Fallen / Honor and Remember, and Portland City Court Judge Donald Gillespie. May 9 was cold and windy, but it was the least we could do to honor those willing to lay down their lives for us, and who lived by the words of John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” On this Memorial Day, let’s always remember the fallen who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.