When Pfc. Brandon Jimenez was joined in his final lap by hundreds of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, he felt goose bumps grow on his arms.
The Marine ran the final lap of the 10-day, continuous Marine Corps Tribute to the Fallen run, which honors about 1,500 Marines and sailors who died overseas. Each lap, about three miles, was run by a Marine or sailor who carried dog tags symbolizing a lost service member.
As he ran, Jimenez said he was thinking of his friends who are currently deployed, including one who was injured overseas. He also thought about the fallen Marines and sailors.
"The fact that they fell for me to stand and serve in their place is a big honor," Jimenez said.
After running three miles, Jimenez was joined by his military family, and though tired, he said they pushed him to continue.
"To feel that energy that we're running for everyone, it gave me motivation to keep on going and run five miles," Jimenez said.
For the final lap during the closing ceremony, every Marine and sailor who ran a lap joined Jimenez, along with a large group of soldiers and airmen. The military family ran an additional two miles to honor the fallen.
Navy Capt. Bill Kramer, who ran with a group of about 40 sailors, said that while he ran, he thought about the Marines he served with in Fallujah, Iraq, as an information operations officer.
"I was never really in harm's way over there because these guys went out in the field and protected us every day," Kramer said. "Being back here and being able to remember not just the Marines but all of the sailors and airmen and soldiers that have fallen in harm's way, it means a lot to reflect on the sacrifices they made."
Kramer, who has been in the Navy for more than 30 years, said it's important even now to remain ready for anything.
"Every day we're posturing now with countries like China and Iran and Russia, and any day something could happen and we just have to be ready every day," he said.
During the closing ceremony, 1,500 dog tags that service members ran with hung on a cross. Kramer said he knows they represent only a portion of those who have died.
"Every family has been affected, every generation has been affected, so when you look back on those you reflect back on all those generations," Kramer said.
The run was previously held near Veterans Day, but Maj. Michael Lehmer, the commanding officer of the Marine Corps detachment at Fort Gordon, said it was moved because the message of the remembrance fit better with Memorial Day.
This Memorial Day, Lehmer is thinking of his wife, a soldier who is serving in Afghanistan. He said seeing the support of everyone on post has been uplifting.
"It really feels like a joint community we're all in this fight together," Lehmer said.
The run began at 9 a.m. May 13, and ended at the same time Wednesday. The closing ceremony featured a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps.
This article is written by Sarah LeBlanc from The Augusta Chronicle, Ga. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.