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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.
It’s not that I moved without purpose before I dedicated those steps and those miles. It’s just that doing so gave me a reason and motivation to keep going when staying the course seemed like a ridiculous idea for someone who enjoys sweatpants and snacks and a good book on the porch as much as I do.
And yet there I was, running a ridiculous distance, yet again.
I wasn’t really a runner before the 2009 death of the soldiers in my husband’s unit, the 1-17 infantry battalion, 5th brigade, second division out of Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington. Over 20 soldiers died in combat in just a few months, including his commander, Captain John Hallett. He was hurt in some of the blasts that killed others, though we didn’t really understand that for several years. And of course that story is now detailed in the documentary Unconditional, which you can still see streaming free on PBS right now and, soon, can see on Peacock, streaming on PBS passport or rent on Apple TV or Amazon.
But it was the death of those soldiers that got me running, Or, rather, it was the ask and personal example of John’s widow, Lisa Hallett. Run, she said. Run with me. Run and say their names. Please don’t let them be forgotten. Run with purposeful steps. Run.
So we ran. We showed up in our husbands’ unit t shirts — infantry blue — for those first runs. Plenty of us were not runners, but we understood the importance of showing up when someone asks for support in this way. And, very quickly, we grasped the power of taking purposeful steps as the literal embodiment of figuratively moving forward and healing.
Since that day I have run thousands of miles with the organization now known as wear blue: run to remember. I have personally experienced the healing running can bring. I have said the names of the fallen out loud, and then silently honored them with my steps. And when the miles get hard — and oh boy, they definitely do — I have kept going. The families of those who died in service to our nation keep going. I can keep going.
The last Monday in May is a national day of honor for fallen service members in our country — Memorial Day. We like to also use it as the first day of the summer season, and that’s OK too. But I am hoping on Memorial Day weekend you’ll take some time to join me in honoring the fallen and feeling the power of taking purposeful steps for the sake of someone else.
You don’t have to know a fallen service member or his or her family to be able to take part or even run. Walking or hiking is great, too. If you visit wearblueruntoremember.org you can sign up to dedicate your miles and be assigned someone to remember. You can learn a little of their story. And you can know that somewhere a mom, dad, brother, sister, daughter, son or friend misses them every single day. Honoring them means they are not forgotten — not the one who died and not and of the ones that were left behind. It matters.
I hope you’ll join me as I wear blue and take purposeful steps on Memorial Day. Ill be logging my miles in this glorious Alaska spring weather that has finally joined us. We went out of state for a few days to attend a screening of our documentary at the White House, yes really, where we also met the First Lady. When we left there were hints that spring might be here. When we got home four days later it had definitely arrived.
You can see photos of our adventures, including many, many, MANY pictures of me running in blue, on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. Share your photos outside too with #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.