2013-11-01 / Spectrum

The Fallen are remembered

The annual United States Marine Corps Tribute to the Fallen got under way Tuesday, with the start of a relay that will remain in continuous motion around Barton Field until November 7. Instead of a baton, the runners are carrying an ammunition pouch containing 21 rounds, which will be used to fire a salute to the fallen during the event’s closing ceremony.

It’s a fitting tribute, and sends a clear message: We remember.

The U. S. Marine Corps Detachment at Fort Gordon, and supporters from sister services, set out on the 10-day journey of almost 1,500 miles to honor Marine warriors and Navy corpsmen who’ve fallen in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’ll cover the entire distance without ever leaving Fort Gordon.

But their hearts, and ours, will be far away – in places like Fallujah, Herat, Marjah, Khost, and Kandahar.

After a decade and more of continuous conflict, it’s understandable that some war fatigue may have set in with the American public. Most of the nation is focused on Congress and the politicians working toward the best interest of the nation. It’s no trade secret that national journalists make news decisions based on what interests the public, so we should not be surprised that coverage of combat action in Afghanistan may now be at an alltime low.

Enter a lone runner, carrying a small pouch of ammunition, trudging along a dirt track at 3 a.m. on a weeknight.

Just as our attention begins to wander, the Marine’s Tribute to the Fallen reminds us that freedom isn’t free, that it’s purchased by the sweat and blood of young men and women in uniform. The tribute serves the dual purpose of honoring those Marines and Navy corpsmen who gave their all and reminding us that there are men and women still in harm’s way today, standing between us and forces that would do us harm.

We should all be grateful to our Fort Gordon Marines for this inspiring endeavor. But they don’t do it for our thanks. They do it to help us remember.

So visit Barton Field during the tribute run, and thank them anyway. And never forget.

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