Run for the Fallen
touched with sadness and joy
August 21, 2011
Customs Officer Donovan Delude takes a
moment before embarking on his leg of
Saturday's Run for the Fallen to read to
his son, Drake, the plaque telling of
just one of the 44 fallen soldiers being
honored, and to tell him what the run
meant ... to them, to the families of
the fallen, and to our country.
Editors Note: All the images on this page
link to the original, high resolution image from
which they were taken.
By Mike Weland
The first of Idaho's "Runs for the Fallen" was a
solemn and moving event, but also one of joy, as
more than 200 people paid tribute to the state's
soldiers fallen in the line of duty in this
nation's war on terror.
More than 200
gathered Saturday morning at the
Veterans Memorial Park at the Boundary
County Library to participate in Idaho's
first "Run for the Fallen."
Few involved in organizing the event have any
doubt but that what started in our small town
will, in the years ahead, grow to become an
Idaho tradition, moving each year from town to
city to town, to all those places that have
given their sons or daughters to the nation's
While the Run honored 44 of Idaho's fallen, with
a plaque bearing the name, picture and biography
of each one at the beginning of each kilometer
(to see those pictures and read the biographies,
click here), the honor went
further, to the families the fallen left behind,
many of whom took part in Saturday's Run for the
No one expected her, but Theresa Hart, whose
son, Army Specialist Nicholas Newby, was one of two
soldiers of the 116th Cavalry Heavy Brigade
Combat team who died July 7 in Iraq, was there.
"We didn't even think to invite her," said
organizer Jessica Collins Tingley, "we thought
the pain would be too fresh, too overwhelming,
but she came, saying she didn't want to miss
So was Pat McCune, Renton, Washington, the
Mother of Specialist James Riekena, killed in
action January 14, 2007, in Baghdad.
Mother Pat McCune, foreground, found
comfort in meeting some of the many
friends her son, Specialist James
Riekena, had made before he died.
"I have a lot of memories," Pat said, "both good
and bad. It's wonderful for me to see the
outpouring of support and to be able to meet
people James had become good friends with. The
pain is beyond belief for every Gold Star
family, and this makes it more bearable. I want
to thank Bernie and her family for doing this,
and thank them for including James."
"Bernie" is Bernadette Kirk-Bonner, the Mother
of Sergeant Joshua J. Kirk, killed October 3,
2009, in Afghanistan. Josh enlisted in the Army
while attending college in Maine, and Bernie and
her family were invited to attend one of the
early Runs for the Fallen there. The support and
comfort they found, the knowing that the grief
they felt wasn't theirs alone to bear, inspired
Bernie to make Idaho the 45th state to host a
Run for the Fallen, in Bonners Ferry because
it's her home town.
"This isn't about Josh, nor is it about Bonners
Ferry," she said. "This is about all this
nation's fallen heroes."
Saturday's local Run for the Fallen was just one
of many across the nation to take place over the
weekend; each state participating setting aside
one kilometer in remembrance of a fallen warrior
so that all who've laid down their lives in this
nation's wars since September 11, 2001, will not
be forgotten, and so their families may know
that they're not forgotten, either.
Mother Bernadette "Bernie" Kirk Bonner,
the driving force behind bringing Idaho
it's first Run for the Fallen, addresses
the audience before the run begins.
Many of those who took part in Saturday's
the comrades in arms of the fallen, there to
show their respect and their support for the
families bereft of a loved one. There was a
color guard and rifle squad comprised of U.S.
Air Force Airmen, there from Fairchild Air Force
Base, Washington, to lend military dignity and
solemnity to the event. A large contingent of
the Patriot Guard Riders was there, their
motorcycles gleaming, festooned with flags, each
member a veteran of our nation's armed forces or
a family member.
They formed a color guard of their own, silently
standing vigil in the background, then led the
runners on the actual Run, helping control
traffic along the 44-kilometer route. At Runs'
end, they led the entire group through the final
kilometer, leading runners, walkers, bicyclists,
baby strollers, pets on leashes, even the
dignified "Martha Washington," Rebecca Huseby,
who sang the National Anthem to open the
ceremonies, through downtown Bonners Ferry to a
picnic, a place people could talk, remember,
laugh and cry, together.
At the outset, on a cool, clear early morning
promising a hot day ahead, a prayer of remembrance
was said in honor of the fallen, stressing the
importance of never forgetting what they gave.
Sergeant First Class Lawrence Jefferson, an
airborne warrior who's fought in nearly every
phase of our War on Terrorism, and who was
severely wounded in Afghanistan, welcomed
everyone and reminded them of why they came,
then he read the names, hometowns, and dates
they laid down their life of each of the 44
Idaho men and women, soldiers, sailors, airmen,
Marines, who fought and died in those wars.
Jefferson solemnly reads the names of 44
of Idaho's fallen in this nation's War
The haunting strain of "Taps," played by an Air
Force Airman, wafted over those gathered, the
rifle squad fired a salute with precision and
And then the runners left, most going to that
special marker bearing the name of someone they
loved or knew, someone they particularly wanted
to remember. At many of the markers, tears
flowed and prayers were said before the runner
set out on their first steps. Throughout the
morning and into the early afternoon, runners
ran, walkers walked, riders sat astride their
mounts and bicyclists pedaled before all met again at the Veterans'
Memorial Park at the Boundary County Library.
There, Brigadier General Alan Gayheart,
Assistant Adjutant General of the Idaho National
Guard who has helped lead many of this state's
soldier into battle, recalled the privilege of
serving alongside such fine citizen-soldiers,
the pain of not being able to bring them one and
all home alive. He lauded all who helped
organize this first of the state's Runs for the
Fallen, thanking them and everyone who
participated for their remembrance of this
||Rebecca Huseby, dressed as
Martha Washingon for the occasion, sings
the National Anthem to begin the Bonners
Ferry Run for the Fallen.
reading of the names of the 44 Idaho
service men and women being remembered,
the mournful sound of "Taps" sounded,
played beautifully by an Airman from
Fairchild Air Force Base.
a salute was fired with military
precision by a Fairchild Air Force Base
Patriot Guard Riders color guard stood
to attention ...
with a Fairchild Air Force Base color
guard, their active-duty comrades in
opening ceremonies, the Run for the
Fallen began. Among the first to step
out were Jessica Tingley, daughter of
Bernadette Kirk-Bonner and sister of
Sgt. Joshua Kirk, and her boyfriend,
walked, with members of the Patriot
Guard Riders pointing the way and
helping to control traffic.
Washington strolled along with everyone
else, though gowned in hoops and finery.
participated as groups, such as the crew
from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, who
ran, biked, walked and even rode
to help along the way by manning water
and rest stations were members of Cub
Scout Den 114 ... and a few of their
but the final kilometer had been
traversed, everyone met back up at the
Veterans Memorial Park, where Brigadier
General Alan Gayheart both thanked
everyone for their effort and shared his
personal remembrances of some of Idaho's
Patriot Guard Riders mounted again to
lead everyone along the last kilometer
through downtown Bonners Ferry.
every step of the way, even waving from
strollers being pushed by feet-weary
all reached the fairgrounds, and a
picnic that awaited them ... a place
they could share a smile or a memory,
talk about shared feelings ...
revisit once more the pictures and names
of the 44 who gave their lives that we
might live free.
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