The Visit

Oakwood, Ohio is a small town that sits not far from the Indiana border in Paulding County. It is an agricultural town, like so many on this western edge of the state. Ponds dot the fields along the roads I run. They are a bluish green, free of algae and plants. Many have docks and diving boards. They are by all appearances, natural swimming pools in the summer and skating rinks in the winter. It is in this town that I will stay tonight and I will share a story now of when my gracious hosts took me on a little ride to a home in the country……..

We head up Road 201 and as we pull into a driveway and stop, I see the barn. On the side of it is a mural. It shows a young soldier in uniform, an American Flag, clouds. It is a beautiful tribute. In front of the mural is a statue of a soldier and a bronze plaque that bears the name “Army PFC Josh Ramsey” His Mom and Dad walk out and she tells me the story of the mural and of her son. Josh was 19 and was an MP and wanted be a U.S. Marshall when he got out. He died at 19. Protecting his country inevitably prevented him from protecting his country back here, how ironic. It is on a Sunday that I learn much about him. His competiveness, his quick wit, his zest for life. Qualities that so many that are gone, have had. It was on a Sunday that his mother found out she had lost her son. “You must be mistaken, I just spoke with him this morning” she would tell the officers who knocked on her door. “We don’ t make these kind of mistakes Ma’m, we are sorry”. So in mourning his mother started planting flowers around a flag pole. They were red, white and blue. There were 500 of them. It is said in some folk lore, that when we lose a warrior and eagle will appear. Across the road lived the photographer for the local paper and watching her neighbor plant those flowers one day she looked up and saw 2 eagles circling overhead and snapped a photo. That picture is now in the Ramsey home. Leigh Anne Ramsey speaks lovingly of her son, she tells me of how he would jump up on the counter in the kitchen and ask what they were going to do that day. She tells me of the day she planted flowers and then was in the kitchen mopping. Crying, thinking of her son and then he was there….on the counter and said “You can stop crying Mom, I’m home now”.

Josh Ramsey was the type to jump into the water and then say “How do I swim”. I admire that. For what we don’t know we can learn. What we don’t believe can be changed. That is the most important thing, to believe. Believe, Believe, Believe and then jump. A visit in the country, a visit to a small town in Ohio shows me the character of rural America. That even in the presence of loss and grief, love holds everything together even if it is a mural and flowers in the countryside……………


  1. Carl Oesterle

    Thanks again Mike, for sharing these wonderful moments with us. Again, keep plugging.

  2. Paul Schmidt

    Your journey across our country serves so many in deeply
    meaningful ways. Everytime I read your posts I think of my
    neighbor, the first soldier of my city to lose his life in this latest
    go-round in Iraq. Just last week the Army Reserve center MP’s, drilling
    for their next deployment, marched right by my house. For many reasons, the war is not so far away. Thank you for your reminders.

  3. cathy

    What a journey you are on! Much more than just the physical “run across America.”

  4. Sgt Bob

    Oh, this is a beautiful story. I almost cried when I read how Josh would jump up on the counter and then, at the end, he told his mom he was home.
    Sad, What a great job Mike is doing. I hope he writes a book about his trip and shares it with the whole world.

    Like the forgotten men he is remembering on his trip, he too should be remembered.

  5. Vivian White

    I’m an Army mom who lives in Charleston, IL. Recently, I drove up to Ashkum (about 2 hours north of me) in hopes of running a mile or two with you, but due to a late start (flat tire), I missed you. But I still drove a few miles up the road you had traveled and got out to take a picture of one of your flags. It so touched my heart to even for a brief second, a part of your journey. You are a strong, honorable man doing something I can only dream of. Even though my son is safely back from Iraq, he will be returning next spring. I continue to think/pray for our soldiers that don’t come home, for their families, and especially their mothers. Those soldiers are there watching out for you everday, smiling down on you, thanking you for remembering….for sharing…for caring.


  6. Kay Williams

    Hi Mike,

    It was an honor to have come out tonight to see and hear you…As a Mother of a son who is currently serving his country Sgt. Elias A. Kostakis, stationed at Fort Carson CO. I truly thank you for what you are doing! You talked about the Angels who are with you on your Journey, well you too are, our Angel for it’s individual such as you who remind us everyday what our Military sacrafices for us! The families of someone who is serving know the sacrafice and never forget everyday we think of our loved one but we all need to remember everyday what it means to be an American! God Bless

  7. kath

    As many of your experiences you post on your journey, I have gotten teary eyed as I have read them. This post was extraordinary! Incredible what you are accomlishing.

    God Bless!

  8. Judy

    Thank you for honoring these men and women who gave their lives for America’s freedom. Your post about Josh really touched me.
    May God watch over you and bless you for this incredible task you have undertaken!

  9. Dave Abbott

    You’re awesome, my friend! What an incredible journey for you…as well as all of us who read your blogs. This is, indeed, a great country, made up of great people…many of whom you are meeting and sharing with us. May God continue to bless you and the families and friends of all of our fallen heroes. Thank you for what you’re doing! We’re trying our best to hold things together in the Teton Valley :-)


  10. David P.

    Best blog ever. Fact.

  11. Lori

    You have reached so many people and opened many eyes
    You understand the Price being paid in Iraq and Afghanistan

    And I pray that your journey across our Nation brings to
    others the reality of what is lost that will never again be.

  12. ADM

    Josh was my cousin. Thank you for a lovely story on visiting his memorial at my aunt and uncle’s house.


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