Community run honors and remembers fallen service members
1 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers members set up combat boots and pictures of fallen service members on the Williams Stadium field Sept. 10, 2022, as part of the Run For The Fallen at Williams Stadium, Fort Lee, Va. Run For The Fallen is a community gathering and run to honor and remember those who died in service to the nation. (U.S. Army photo by Chad Menegay) (Photo Credit: Chad Menegay) VIEW ORIGINAL
Community run honors and remembers fallen service members
2 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Fort Lee residents and community members run to honor and remember fallen service members outside of Williams Stadium Sept. 10, 2022, as part of the Run For The Fallen at Williams Stadium, Fort Lee, Va. Over 50,000 Run For The Fallen participants have covered more than 200,000 miles across 26 different states. (U.S. Army photo by Chad Menegay) (Photo Credit: Chad Menegay) VIEW ORIGINAL
Community run honors and remembers fallen service members
3 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The U.S. Army Drill Team performs its world-renown marching and weapon movements with bayonet-tipped rifles Sept. 10, 2022, as part of the Run For The Fallen at Williams Stadium, Fort Lee, Va. The unit is part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (Old Guard), the Army’s official ceremonial unit. (U.S. Army photo by Chad Menegay) (Photo Credit: Chad Menegay) VIEW ORIGINAL
Community run honors and remembers fallen service members
4 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers of 266th Quartermaster Battalion voluntarily run to honor and remember fallen service members outside of Williams Stadium Sept. 10, 2022, as part of the Run For The Fallen at Williams Stadium, Fort Lee, Va. Over 50,000 Run For The Fallen participants have covered more than 200,000 miles across 26 different states. (U.S. Army photo by Chad Menegay) (Photo Credit: Chad Menegay) VIEW ORIGINAL
Community run honors and remembers fallen service members
5 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Marines with Marine Corps Detachment - Fort Lee voluntarily run to honor and remember fallen service members outside of Williams Stadium Sept. 10, 2022, as part of the Run For The Fallen at Williams Stadium, Fort Lee, Va. Over 50,000 Run For The Fallen participants have covered more than 200,000 miles across 26 different states. (U.S. Army photo by Chad Menegay) (Photo Credit: Chad Menegay) VIEW ORIGINAL
Community run honors and remembers fallen service members
6 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A Veterans of Foreign Wars motorcycle rider leads a procession of Gold Star family members and service members carrying banners with photos of fallen heroes around Williams Stadium track Sept. 10, 2022, as part of the Run For The Fallen at Fort Lee, Va.. Those in the crowd saluted them as they passed. A local VFW post provided the fallen service member banners. (U.S. Army photo by Chad Menegay) (Photo Credit: Chad Menegay) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 10, 2022) – Running, typically thought of as an individual sport, often brings people together to build stamina, improve overall health and sometimes compete, but Americans also run together to honor and remember those who died in service to the nation.

It’s a phenomenon to behold— the Run For The Fallen.

“Runners from around the world who have joined Run For The Fallen, over 50,000 participants, have covered over 200,000 miles across 26 different states,” said Scott McConnell, Deputy to the Commanding General, CASCOM, in his introductory remarks. “This is Fort Lee’s 12th Run For The Fallen; I understand at our peak we had 7,000 participants.”

This year’s Sept. 10 event was not a record crowd, yet thousands listened to the Army Training and Doctrine Command band, watched the U.S. Army Drill Team perform with bayonet-tipped rifles, and ultimately ran together among other scheduled activities.

The community event saw many Fort Lee and community organizations work together, including U.S. Army Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers members, who set up the memorial wall, combat boots and pictures on the field. Service member and family support organizations set up resource tables around the Williams Stadium track.

Gold Star family members and service members carried banners with photos of the fallen around the track, and those in the crowd saluted them as they passed. Veterans of Foreign Wars motorcycle riders led the procession, and a VFW post provided the fallen service member banners.

“To honor fallen service members is something that is a long-standing American tradition,” said Army Staff Sgt. Adam Stroik, who served as guest speaker. “We take great pride in this, and we as a nation owe a tremendous debt to Gold Star families.”

Stroik, to honor a military mentor of his who was killed while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom, has run a 150-mile race, five 50-kilometer races, 20 marathons and 10 half marathons.

SSG Mark A. Stets Jr. and Stroik were both assigned to the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne), 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C. when Stets was killed in Pakistan Feb. 3, 2010 from wounds suffered after insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Stroik said he runs to honor and remember the epitome of a leader that Stets was to him and to display the close bond Stroik has developed with Stets’s parents since his death.

“He was just that Soldier that you can go to about anything,” Stroik said, “and that leader that would encourage you to keep going no matter what.”

That spirit— moving forward no matter what— is perhaps best embraced and understood by an endurance running community that has been honoring and remembering its fallen for years and one stride at a time.