To honor service members who died defending America, runners are continuing their 6,000-mile route through Sampson County.
“America’s Run for the Fallen” is scheduled to come through Sampson County Thursday, July 26. According to officials, runners crossed the South Carolina-North Carolina border to mark the beginning of the last states on their cross-country run to Arlington National Cemetery. The event was organized by Honor and Remember, a veteran and Gold Star Family organization. Stops are made at every mile and the names of fallen soldiers are read out loud, who died on a particular day since Oct. 12, 2000 during the War on Terror.
George Lutz, founder of the Honor and Remember organization, is looking for runners to come out and enjoy a few miles with the runners in Sampson County.
“We’ve identified these individuals by name and it’s important to recognize and appreciate what they’ve given for us,” Lutz said. “It’s one thing to say we’re remembering the fallen, but it’s another thing to participate and hear their individual names. It should be meaningful to all of us.”
At 8 a.m. this Thursday, July 26, runners will be assisted by the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office and Sampson County troopers from the North Carolina Highway Patrol. According to a map, the route for the 111th day they will continue on Highway 13 (Fayetteville Highway) through Spivey’s Corner and south on Highway 421 pass Hubb’s Corn Maze before reaching Clinton. Runners are scheduled to run down McKoy Street, through downtown and on to College Street. Next they will travel through Warsaw Road, Highway 24 and then through Turkey.
According to a news release, this year’s event marks the 10th anniversary for the run, which continues to grow each year. The route began at Fort Irwin, Calif. Runners will take nine days to journey through North Carolina after entering the state on Monday. They will pass through Wilmington, Fayetteveille, and Jacksonsville. A day of rest is planned near Washington, N.C. The route is available online at www.runforthefallen.org/north-carolina.
Lutz founded the organization after his son, George Anthony Lutz II was killed by a sniper’s bullet in Fallujah, Iraq. The purpose of the nationally recognized non-profit is to honor fallen service members. A flag was designed for that purpose and as a national symbol for soldiers who died in combat.
“That’s one of the flags that we carry as we call these names out loud,” Lutz said.
According to the organization, a core group of people are participating on teams in a relay location. Volunteers not part of the group are responsible for their own transportation.
Sgt. S.F. Cotton, an U.S. Air Force veteran and member of the Sampson County branch of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, is encouraging others to participate as well.
“It’s a way to show support to the military for the freedoms that we have,” Cotton said. “It’s not a lot of time and money to show support and to let them know that we’re thinking about them.”
If construction hinders the route, there could be deviations along the way with the assistance of law enforcement. A live feed is available on the website from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at http://heroes.runforthefallen.org/show-run-location. Interested runners and volunteers may participate by visiting the website at www.runforthefallen.org