1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Participants in the annual Department of the Army Staff Run make their way through the western end of Arlington National Cemetery. In addition to the scenery, the purpose of the cemetery route so participants will reflect on the men and women of the ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT MYER, Va. (Army News Service, June 12, 2008) -- When the bugle plays reveille at 6:30 a.m., it usually signifies the start of the day for Soldiers on Fort Myer. Thursday morning more than 2,000 Soldiers and DoD employees listened to reveille from the Summerall Field parking lot, where they gathered for the Department of the Army Staff Run.

The run is held every year during Army birthday week.

Eleven different buses brought in runners from Pentagon City, Alexandria, the Pentagon and Fort McNair.

Maj. Chris Kimball, one of the organizers of the event, had been working on this year's run since late 2007, and said he was pleased to see the fruits of his labor.

"I've been working on the run since last October, but once I got here at 5 a.m., all I had to do is smile and shake hands and enjoy it," he said. "No more stressing over getting every little thing done."

The 2,000-plus participants represented a big jump up from last year's 1,500, but it was well coordinated, so the runners had little difficulty navigating the masses.

"This is my third year doing it," said Staff Sgt. Jack Ryan. "It seemed like they planned the route really well this year, there wasn't as much congestion as in years past."

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston, opened the event with a spirited roll call.

Each unit gave a loud yell when they were acknowledged, though the biggest shout came from the six runners with the Audie Murphy Club. There were more than 30 units present.

Director of Army Staff Lt. Gen. David Huntoon gave a speech that reminded all present exactly what they were there for.

"We're here to run and remember. We run because it is the ethos of the profession to stay fit. We remember the sacrifices that have taken place over the last 233 years of the Army's history," he said.

"As you run through this magnificent post on this magnificent morning, especially when you run through Arlington National Cemetery, I would ask that all of you take a moment to remember the sacrifices of the millions of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines that have come before you."

The runners started with a steady march, to the rhythm of the U.S. Army Band, which provided musical accompaniment for the run. As the runners got to Jackson Avenue, the march turned into a jog.

The three-mile route took participants from Summerall Field to Jackson Avenue,, Marshall Drive and then McNair Road before entering Arlington National Cemetery through the Old Post Chapel gate. They emerged from the cemetery at the Memorial Chapel gate, made a quick loop around Rader Clinic, then went past the fire station down Sheridan Avenue.

The 289th Military Police Company provided crowd control, setting up 12 traffic control stations where they were able to keep participants safe during the entirety of the run.

The empty Summerall Field parking lot was filled with a dull roar as the Soldiers approached, and as they made their way into the parking lot, cadences could be heard from each unit. Combined with the band's upbeat music, the end of the run was filled with even more fanfare than the beginning.

From privates to colonels, the Soldiers who returned looked invigorated from their early morning run. After some brief closing remarks from Huntoon, where he gave thanks to Installation Management Command, the Military District of Washington and Fort Myer for hosting the event, runners refreshed themselves.

The Pentagon Federal Credit Union continued its annual tradition and donated thousands of bottles of water, oranges, bananas and granola bars to help the runners get back some of the energy they expended.

(Alex McVeigh writes for the Pentagram newspaper at Fort Myer.)