It’s almost time for the Run For The Wall. Riders are leaving their homes on their individual journeys to Ontario for the start of the mission. It is each of these individual stories that combine hearts and minds into one purpose to fulfill the mission of the Run For The Wall. Everyone has their own story, their own reasons for riding, their own troubles and victories. As a group, we listen and care for one another as we execute the mission of riding for those who can’t and peacefully drawing attention to the 81,600 servicemen and women who are still unaccounted for.
One of the stories woven into the Run For The Wall is the escort of the Alaska Airlines Fallen Soldier Cart across the country for delivery to an airport where it will serve to honorably carry the remains of fallen military members to and from aircraft. This year, the cart is traveling from the Seattle Tacoma (SEATAC) airport where it was constructed by Alaska Airlines volunteers, to Ontario and then on to Kansas City with the Central Route. The cart departed SEATAC this morning and will arrive in Ontario on Saturday, May 14th. It was at the cart’s first stop in Rochester, WA that I met up with it to thank the escort riders, and Jim Rea, the organizer of this year’s cart. My purpose for going to see the cart was to honor those making the escort journey and to help some of my friends and family in my home state understand a bit more about why we ride. Being a member of the Central Route, I will of course have opportunity to escort the cart, but seeing it in this context as a patriot citizen with others who cannot ride was fulfilling. Those I took with me were grateful for the opportunity to experience firsthand the patriotism that is still alive within Washington state and the rest of the country. It was with grateful hearts and tears in our eyes that we waved, saluted, and raised the flag for the escort and the cart as it departed Rochester on its journey southward to Ontario.
My personal journey to the 32nd Run For The Wall will start tomorrow, but the mission for most of us lasts all year. Today’s experience with the cart and one of the Patriot Guard Riders who escorted it from SEATAC to Rochester was a reminder that we should always be ready to listen to the stories of our brothers and sisters. After the cart and its escort departed, my family and I were in the parking lot packing up our flags and preparing to ride the 45 minutes back home when a gentleman began to tell his own story of woundedness. I gave the hero as much time as I could to unload some of what he was carrying. I hope it was enough. Everyone has value, everyone is important, and to lose anyone to their struggles is a tragedy.
Those carried by the Alaska Airlines Fallen Soldier Cart have their stories honored by the volunteers who sacrificed to build the cart and to carry it to airports across the nation. Their stories are also remembered by their Gold Star families and those who support them in their time of need. Every man and woman participating in the Run For the Wall has their own story as well. It is those stories when shared and honored that bring restoration and healing to the brokenness caused by military conflict. I look forward to bringing you the story of the Central Route this year and some of the individual stories that make the greater story of the 32nd Run For The Wall so much richer.