A Poignant Run on Memorial Day

This morning, instead of sleeping in I roused myself, ate a yogurt, dressed up for my Memorial Day run and lightly jogged to the dairy farm with a handful of prayer flags (23 of them) for soldiers that have fallen in battle so that we may have freedom and peace in America.

I arrived at the dairy farm at 7:58am and waited until 8:05 in case someone was to join me for today’s run.  No one showed but a man walking his dogs.  So, at 8:05am, I started my run to commemorate the Georgia soldiers that have died serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It was an incredibly beautiful morning with birds in abundance chirping and flying about.  Squirrels were also out in abundance.  I counted 13 squirrels during the run.  It seemed ironic to be such a beautiful and perfect Memorial Day.

the dairy farm prayer flag project


I left the dairy farm and headed up Larkin to Maryland.  Maryland took me to Bonaventure Road.  I took a left, heading toward Bonaventure and Greenwich cemeteries.  I entered Greenwich cemetery first.  I had no music on.  As I ran through the cemeteries my eyes scanned the numerous tomb stones and the American flags that were scattered about here and there.  There was so much activity going on in the cemeteries but it was not human, – it was myriad species of birds, squirrels, insects.  The cemeteries were so lively with these critters.  The tombstones, silent testaments of human souls, lives come to an end slowly or abruptly.  Both young and old are buried in these cemeteries with histories dating back to the early 1800’s.

Greenwich cemetery

As I ran the cemeteries I thought of those 23 American lives that had ended in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I now carried with me prayer flags for each of those lives.  Normally, I am happy when I run but this morning as I ran on such a beautiful day I was sad.  Throughout the run I purposely stayed focused on what this run was about.  This run was about 23 soldiers, some way too young to be in this mix, that had died fighting in wars half-way across the world.  These twenty-two men and one woman died fighting for our country.  They died fighting for a belief they held dear, that the United States of America is a good country, imperfect as she may be, she is still a good country.  And, these soldiers answered their call of duty and paid with their lives that America may continue to improve and, to be free and to be good.

Forest Lawn cemetery

As I exited the cemeteries and headed back to the dairy farm my heart felt empty and broken.

I entered the dairy farm and ran to where the prayer flags are at.  The run to the prayer flags was pleasant.  As always, coming upon the prayer flags is moving.

As I hung each prayer flag I read them with terrible sadness in my heart.

  1. PFC Austin G. Staggs; born 01/11/1991, died 11/29/2010
  2. Staff Sgt. Cynthia R. Taylor; born 1972, died 04/16/2011
  3. Spc. Gary L. Nelson; born 01/23/1991, died 04/05/2011
  4. Maj. Wesley J. Hinkley; born 02/19/1975, died 04/04/2011
  5. First Lt. Scott Fleming; born 04/03/1986, died 09/17/2010
  6. Lance Cpl. Christopher Rodgers; born 05/04/1990, died 09/01/2010
  7. Lance Cpl. William Richards; born 01/31/1990, died 06/26/2010
  8. Lance Cpl/ Joseph R. Giese; born 09/17/1986, died 01/07/2011
  9. Lance Cpl. Raymon Johnson; born 08/29/1988, died 10/13/2010
  10. Cpl. Stephen Sockalosky; born 02/12/1989, died 10/06/2010
  11. Sgt. Jonathan Peney; born 07/01/1987, died 06/01/2010
  12. Sgt.  David Holmes; born 1976, died 06/26/2010
  13. Sgt.  Johnny Lumpkin; born 11/30/1971, died 07/02/2010
  14. Chief Petty Officer Patrick L Wade; born 1969, died 07/17/2007
  15. Staff Sgt. Sheldon Tate; born 09/18/1982, died 07/13/2010
  16. Pfc. Jacob Dennis; born 07/28/1987, died 07/03/2010
  17. Sgt. 1st Class Edgar Roberts; born 01/16/1971, died 08/17/2010
  18. Spc. Shannon Chihuahua; born 05/10/1985, died 11/11/2010
  19. Spc. Chad Coleman; born 03/15/1990, died 08/27/2010
  20. Sr. Airman Michael Buras; born 07/28/1987, died 09/21/2010
  21. Pvt. Jeremy P. Faulkner; born 05/05/1987, died 03/29/2011
  22. Sgt. Brandon S. Hocking; born 04/03/1985, died 03/21/2011
  23. Senior Chief Petty Officer David McLendon; born 11/29/1979, died 09/21/2010

Bonaventure cemetery

Today’s run was very special to me.  Today’s run was to honor those that fell so that I may continue to live freely and safely in America.  I never knew any of these brave soldiers yet they have touched my heart and my life in the most profound way.

When I gripe about hurting calves and ill-timed traffic lights on Abercorn there are thousands of American soldiers fighting in wars never knowing whether they will die of old age on American soil or brutally and abruptly in hostile lands.  And, whether we want to admit it or not,  they are fighting for our rights to be free and to be heard.  Most of the soldiers listed above are no older than most of the students that to go to SCAD, where I work.

Each prayer flag I hung today in honor of fallen heroes broke my heart as it should have.  We must remember them.

I saw this magnolia tree flower in Greenwich cemetery

Wildlife Inventory:

  • 13 squirrels
  • 1 great egret
  • 1 snowy egret
  • 4 woodpeckers
  • 2 butterflies: 1 orange-winged, 1 black-winged
  • 16 doves
  • 7 grackles
  • 2 blue jays
  • 1 moth
  • 1 pelican
  • 1 red-tailed hawk
  • 1 vulture
  • 2 carolina wrens
  • 1 red cardinal
  • 2 fiddler crabs
  • 2 green herons
  • 1 ant
  • 10 dogs
  • 8 mocking birds
  • 1 cat

Today’s run turned out to be 8.19 miles.

Many thanks for stopping by.

All the very best to you and yours.

To our soldiers, thank you for what you do.




Monday, 5:34pm

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1 comment for “A Poignant Run on Memorial Day

  1. Sandra
    2011/06/07 at 5:49 am

    Beautiful Dan, thank-you for sharing a loving tribute to our soldiers.

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