Runners take off as the second annual Arkansas Run for the Fallen commences March 16, 2013, at Ozark, Ark. The Run for the Fallen is a 138-mile run that commemorates Arkansan’s that were killed in action since 2001 every mile. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal)
Jim Morehead, father of fallen Army Master Sgt. Kevin Morehead, shares a story from when his son met former president of the United States, George W. Bush, March 17, 2013, at Oakgrove, Ark. Kevin Morehead’s story is mentioned in three novels written by author Robin Moore. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal)
Rolling Thunder members escorted the runners of the Arkansas Run for the Fallen from start to finish March 17, 2013, at Maulmelle , Ark. The run was a two-day event spanning 138 miles. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal)
John Swindle, brother of fallen Arkansan Jason Swindle, comforts Chelsey Swindle, wife of the fallen service member, as Jason’s flag is put in the ground March 17, 2013, at Little Rock, Ark. The Swindle family finished the remainder of the event by walking to the state Capitol. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal)
Senior Airman Randy Edwards, Little Rock Air Force Base honor guardsman, stands at the position of attention as guests fill the state Capitol March 19, 2013, at Little Rock, Ark. During the 138-mile Run for the Fallen gold-star moms talked about what the run meant to them and their families. Gold-Star moms are the mothers of fallen service members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal)
Bayr Lukomyansky, 19th Medical Group pediatric clinic medical technician, places the biography of fallen Arkansan service members on American flags to be placed at every mile marker March 15, 2013, at Ozark, Ark. Participants placed 138 flags along Arkansas Highway 64, from Ozark, to Little Rock, Ark. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal)
Sgt. Anthony Viehmeyer, Center for Naval Avionics Technical Training master instructor, reads the biography of a fallen Arkansan March 16, 2013, at Ozark, Ark. The Arkansas Run for the Fallen is a 138-mile run that commemorates an Arkansan that has been killed in action since 2001. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal)
The Arkansas Run for the Fallen comes to a close as the runners marched up the steps of the state Capitol March 17, 2013, at Little Rock, Ark. The last few blocks were lined with American flags being held by Rolling Thunder members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal)
The second team of runners pick up the flags and begins their leg of the event March 16, 2013, at Altus, Ark. Twenty-one four man teams participated in the event by running and carrying the American flag, the Arkansas state flag, the Remember the Fallen flag, as well as, a smaller American flag which had a fallen Arkansan’s bio attached to it. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal)
Arkansas Run for the Fallen participants bow their heads during the national anthem March 16, 2013, at Ozark, Ark. This is the second annual Run for the Fallen, an event created to remember the fallen service members of Arkansas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal)
by Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
3/21/2013 - LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound," rang from procession vehicles on a chilly and early morning, March 16, 2013, as the second annual Arkansas Run for the Fallen commenced. Families gathered on the sides of streets with signs and American flags to pay their respects as the droning of bagpipes passed them by. The sound of that song, stirred bitter sweet emotions that only the families of the fallen heroes know.
"The sacrifices that their brave sons and daughters made will never be forgotten so long as blood courses through my veins," said Senior Master Sgt. Bubba Beason, 19th Logistic Readiness Squadron First sergeant and creator of the run. "I told the volunteers for this year, (which included bikers, runners, state police, as well as military personnel and civilians), to remember who and what they were running for. I said their pain from running six miles is nothing compared to the pain these families have to endure for the rest of their lives. You are running because these fallen service members no longer can."
The two-day event began in Ozark, Ark., after a small ceremony and the singing of the national anthem. This year, runners were grouped in four-person teams. One runner carried the American flag, the second, the Arkansas state flag, the third, the Remember the Fallen flag, and the fourth a smaller American flag attached with the biography of the fallen service member.
Every mile, for 132 miles, a member of the running group read the biography, rendered a salute and placed the smaller American flag in the ground at the location of that fallen service member's designated memorial site. Once the final runners reached the state Capitol, the ending ceremony included a guest speaker, thankful remarks from Beason, the reading of a letter from a mother to a fallen son, the reading of the names of the fallen and a 21-gun salute.
This run gives family members of the fallen a method to heal and a way to celebrate tragic lose. Many times Beason said he has received emails from gold-star mothers expressing how much the run means to their family. Beason explained that a gold-star mother is the mother of a fallen service member, whereas a blue-star mother is the mother of a service member who's still alive.
"When you get to see a gold-star family for the first time and you put a flag in the ground and see the family break down in tears, you realize while you're doing something so simple by running a mile and putting a flag down, it's so much more for the families because in their hearts and their minds they know their loved one is not forgotten," said Beason.
Beason said he wants the run to continue to grow.
"Two weeks after these people die, the only people who remember are their family, which is an injustice," he said. "I've got passion for this. To me, this is a self-reward to make sure that the families realize that we're still trying to remember them for what they did. I would hope that there would be someone out there to keep my memory alive."
As a gold-star mother read her letter aloud to the crowd, she gave everyone there one final thought to take with them. She said, "I hope what I have just done is put a picture in your mind of a solider from Arkansas, one of our boys, because that's who we honored yesterday and today in those runs. Those are the people that have fought for our country and have fought for our nation and I am blessed to be the mother of one.
3/31/2013 10:46:00 AM ET Ms. DuganI didn't know your son but it was an honor to run his mile. Please know that those of us at LRAFB won't forget him.-Ryan
Ryan, Sherwood AR
3/23/2013 10:53:35 PM ET I am the mother of one of the soldier's they ran for. My son was A1C Kyle C. Truitt I appreciate every each and one of you young runners that took the time on Saturday and Sunday to run a mile for all the Fallen Soldiers including my son. May God Be With You All where ever you go.