Photo courtesy of Petty Officer John Jacobs, USCG

This photo was taken at this year’s Run For The Warriors® in Jacksonville, NC.  I love that this family is running together, supporting our wounded service members and military families.  This year, the kids come along for the ride.  One day, they will join in the fun and run the race themselves.

The Run For The Warriors® was created first and foremost as a means to welcome home wounded service members and honor them for their service and sacrifice. For those of you without a military background, I need to share the excitement of a typical Homecoming. 

When a battalion returns from a deployment, family and friends gather on a large, open field on the military base.  The field is filled with children, parents, husbands and wives.  Bounce houses are set up to keep the kids occupied as the frazzled parents wait.  Music plays, food is served and the cameras are ready.  It might be early morning, afternoon, evening or the middle of the night.  When the service members arrive in their buses, each family member and service member frantically searches the crowd for their loved ones. There are hundreds of people greeting each other, hugging, kissing and crying.

Now imagine the “homecoming” of a wounded service member.  They are pulled out of a battle field and transported to a series of bases until they arrive at a medical facility.  No music plays, no food is served and certainly, no one is waving with excitement.  The only cameras clicking are MRI and x-ray machines.  Fear replaces the excitement.

In 2006, a group of Marine wives held the first Run For The Warriors® at Camp Lejeune to change all of that.  The event opened with a ceremony to honor a group of wounded Marines and to give them the Homecoming they deserved.  That particular day, it was cold and rainy. However, thousands of runners and family members did not care.  They clapped, cheered, cried and celebrated their wounded heroes that morning.  

Each year, this race continues with more and more people who attend to race, participate and honor.  And true to its beginning, the race always begins with a ceremony to welcome our heroes home.

To learn more, visit our Run web page.