FORT MYER, Va. -- Three thousand Soldiers, Marines and Army civilians laced up their shoes Friday morning to run three miles through Fort Meyer and Arlington Cemetery during this year's Army Birthday Run.

The event was hosted by Lt. Gen. David H. Huntoon, director of the Army staff, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston.

"We could not be prouder of all of you today for your own service in this time in war," Huntoon told the runners as they stood in formation before the run. "This morning, we remember all our Soldiers, Marines and civilians for serving around the world in harm's way so that we can gather here on this magnificent morning to run in safety, to work in freedom, and to be with our loved ones. We never forget their courage and their selfless service."

Other guests in attendance included Rep. Tim Murphy (D-18-PA), Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-8-PA), Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-4-AL) and more than 100 congressional staffers.

As Soldiers trotted through the course in their unit formations, they waved colorful guidons and sang cadences. But once they entered the gates of Arlington National Cemetery, the thousands-long line was silent.

"It was very reverent going through Arlington; it was the silent part of the run that was very special," said run participant Col. Gary Saladino of the Army Office of General Counsel. "We were all calling cadence and getting excited, but as soon as we passed through the cemetery gates, it was quiet."

And while the cadences picked back up for the end of the race, Soldiers like Capt. Charles Ballew were thankful for the camaraderie that a group run brings.

"The Army Birthday Run is a great tradition, especially for those of us who are stationed at the Pentagon and may not be with a regular unit," Ballew said. "It's one of the only days of the year we get to really come together and participate in formation and feel that esprit de corps that you get with a large formation."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16