By Mr. Robert Timmons (IMCOM)September 14, 2017
Every year Fort Jackson comes together to remember the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and to honor service members who have died in the war on terror.
On Sept. 9, the remembrance occurred with a run/bike ride for the fallen at Hilton Field. The event previously was only a run, but this year a Fort Jackson Centennial 100-mile bike ride was added. Soldiers ran in formation, while single runners followed -- most wearing the name of a fallen Service member on their runners bib.
"This is something we do every year and it is so important to us for many reasons," said Maj. Gen. Pete Johnson, Fort Jackson commander, moments before he led the assembled runners through the course. "It has been 16 years since that fateful day and the horrible and cowardly attacks.
"Over 3,000 Americans gave their lives that day, but since then more than well over 6,000 service men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice in support of America's war on terror."
Besides remembering 9-11, Fort Jackson also uses the day to "reach out to our Gold Star families."
Gold Star families are those who lost loved ones serving the country. Since World War I, families would hang a blue star in their windows signifying they had a family member serving the armed forces. Families would replace the blue star with a gold star one if their service member died.
"We will never leave a fallen comrade," Johnson added. "When we come back from wars that translate into, 'we will never forget,' and 'we will always support their Families.'"
Taola Barnes, who participated in remembrance of her husband Sgt. 1st Class Sean Barnes, said she was touched by the participation in the event. She and his service dog, Leika, took part in the run.
She got the dog for him to help with his post-traumatic stress disorder when it was a puppy and it never left his side. Leika now never leaves her side.
"I think many people forget about the sacrifice that a lot of Soldiers have done," she said after the run. "I speak from a personal point of view because my husband was very supportive of the Army -- almost 22 years in the Army. He loved it. So I am happy."
The run was a time to show camaraderie between service members and the Gold Star families.
Madelyn Mercado, head of Fort Jackson's Army Community Service, said the event honors all fallen service members, but they especially reached out to the families of lost South Carolinians.
We have to remember what they have done, she said, because it gave "us what you and I have today."
Before crossing the finish line, two runners, Staff Sgt. Tyler Barnes, with the 120th Adjutant General Battalion's Fitness Training Unit, and Capt. Raymond Ainslie, company commander of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment shook hands.
Asked why they were running Ainsle said, "We run because they can't."