Fisher House holds 3rd annual Remembrance Run
Fri, 2016-11-11 05:00 News Staff
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Several thousand gathered outside in the rainy drizzle in front of III Corps Headquarters on Fort Hood Saturday morning for the 3rd annual Hero & Remembrance Run, Walk or Roll.
The event served to honor all service members who have died since 2001. During the run, 7,300 boots bearing the service members’ photographs lined both sides of Support Avenue, which served as the remembrance route.
Fort Hood Fisher House Director, Theresa Johnson, said the day remembers all service members who have lost their lives, whether they were killed in action, or those who have died in accidents, illness, old age, or the “22 a day” lost to suicide.
Johnson has been the event’s organizer for all three years and recalls the time when she and other local volunteers collected as many boots as possible, which are put into storage during the year. The remembrance is held the Saturday before Veterans Day each year.
After the event, the boots were also on display on the field in front of III Corps, so family, family, friends, and brothers and sisters in arms of the fallen could locate their service member’s boot, many of which were also decorated with mementos.
For Johnson, the event is not so much a memorial, but a chance for the living to help deal with their grief and loss, especially the ones who currently serve, or have served.
“When I created it, it was to give the veterans and active duty people a place to really have their moment. A matter of fact, I was talked to Sgt. Winey’s wife today. The guys that he served with, they haven’t had the opportunity to mourn his loss. So they’re going to come next year. The people that we’re not catching are those 22 a day. Nobody thinks about that,” Johnson said. “This event is a living event, helping those people who are living with the memories, a way of having a place to go and have a different mind frame and honor their buddies, they didn’t have that, they had to stay mission focused.”
People have come from all over the country for the remembrance as word has gotten out, this year including Arizona and Oklahoma.
“Last year we had someone who saw on social media while the boots were on display, and her brother was in the Nepal crash. So she and her husband flew out on Veteran’s Day, spent the whole day out there, and then they flew back,” Johnson said. “She told me, ‘My brother’s in there, and we just want to be here.’”
Each of the more than 7,000 boots bears the name of a service member, along with a photo and a tag stating when and where they passed away. One of the boots even memorializes a military war dog.
Johnson said another special event took place Thursday with the help of a Gold Star wife, the widow of one of the service members who died when their vehicle overturned on June 2 at a low water crossing on north Fort Hood.
“A spouse from the rollover brought out roses for each boot in 2016, and another spouse came who lost her husband in April and wants to do a rose for all the rest,” Johnson said. “So we will be getting roses for (Thursday) and getting tons of volunteers hopefully to help us place one in each boot. It is going to be an amazing feat to get done so that on Veteran’s Day the boot display becomes a field of roses!”
Saturday, Nov. 5, also marked the seventh anniversary of the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting on Fort Hood, when 13 were killed and more than 30 who wounded when Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire inside the Soldier Readiness Processing Center.
Johnson is director of Fort Hood’s Fisher House which provides free lodging for active duty, retirees, and veterans and their families who are receiving medical treatment Darnall Army Medical Center. That treatment can include those scheduled for early morning testing or treatment and live more than an hour from the hospital, those with same-day surgery, scheduled for tests before surgery, scheduled for a procedure or testing, those released from the hospital but not officially released from a doctor’s care, nursing mother whose baby is still hospitalized, as well as parents living off-post with a seriously ill child in the hospital. The lodging fees for the seven-unit house on Fort Hood are paid for by the Fisher House Foundation.
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