Three, Two, One…….Done

Time does not forgive, nor is it lenient as we progress through each day. Time moves forward relentless in its unique way. Time has pushed me forward 4 days from that finish in Rockland, Maine, on a stormy Friday morning when the winds blew and the rain pummeled a small group of us as we ran slowly towards the shore. It has taken me 4 days to come up with the words and to remember………………..

My son is a great  man. He works hard and raises 2 children on his own at the young age of 26. I admire and respect his devotion and dedication to his son and daughter. His path in this world could have taken him in many different directions and the one he is on today with me, will lead him to the placing of  the 3rd flag.  He reads the name of Marine 2nd Lieutenant Therrell Childers who was 30 years old. I watch my son. His face his hidden under his hat. The rain runs down his nose. Around us, all are quiet as he  places it in the ground next to a small aspen tree. He places his hand over his heart and I salute. That could have been his name there on that flag. I am fortunate that it wasn’t. We are linked in this moment together and I see that it means so much to him to do this for a Marine who is gone, to have a connection.

Now there are only 2 miles left and time seems to be moving even faster. The wind picks up, the rain falls harder as we make our way through the neighborhood to a spot on the corner where the one ways begin in downtown. The wheels on this stroller have seen the entire country. They have rolled from the Pacific to the Atlantic through the Columbia River Gorge, the mountains of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado. They have carried these last 2 flags across the stifling heat and never ending expanse of the Midwest. How many revolutions? That is one statistic I have not determined. Through the rolling, colorful hills of New York, Vermont and Maine. Through snow, wind and rain. Through dirt, gravel and pavement and now just a short mile to their final destination, a small boat ramp in a small harbor.

My daughter is a great woman. She is only 20 and yet, is wise beyond her years with wit and intelligence and beauty to match. Like her brother, her path in life brought her to Maine to run 6 miles with her dad and plant her connection, Marine Captain Ryan Beaupre who was 30 years old. The roads divide here and we stop. Under a large Maple tree she place his flag. She is alone. Her black rain jacket whips in the wind, its hood is pulled tightly around her auburn hair and blue eyes. His name is read and she places her hand over her heart and I salute from a few yards away. She pauses then and I look at her and it is a moment frozen in my mind. Her hands are clenched up under her chin and tears are streaming down her cheeks. Her body is shaking and she sobs. She cries for this Marine, for a soul in heaven,  for eyes that can only watch from above. For the freedoms in life he has afforded her. She stands alone and her connection is buried in her thoughts now. Thoughts and emotion that are only hers but are reflected in those tears.

I move on and in this last mile to the last few yards, to the last few feet, to the moment I touch the water I am still not alone. The presence I have felt from the start of this run is now almost gone however , it lingers over me and I know Major Jay Aubin is watching and smiling.  As eyes watched from above, as names were remembered, they took their spot along the roads of America to watch over and protect their mile until there was only one. I salute the heavens. I am done.

In time, as I reflect on what has transpired,  the value and meaning of these last 6 months will become even more apparent to me. I discovered that impossible is only a word and that the heart can surpass so many boundaries. I discovered that we are a strong country when being strong is the only option we have. That despite what we hear and read and see we are the greatest country in the world with the greatest people. I saw it in the faces of America. From store clerks to Veterans to schoolchildren and farmers and highway workers. The people I came in contact with added so much to my life and to the memory of the flags that were carried. The wall is complete now. It spans our great land and even though the permanence of a small flag may be blown away by winds and weather in time, the permanence of the moment it was placed, the honor bestowed upon that spot will remain forever……….

23 Comments

  1. John Holland

    I’ll have to come back and post a more meaningful comment after I stop crying. God bless you and yours, Mike…so glad you made it!

    Reply
  2. Lori

    We Will Be The Wings Upon Your Feet

    On that wet and windy day

    People stood to see you on your way

    As our tears fell upon the sand

    Grateful

    A Man who only wanted

    Us Remembered

    Placing a Flag every mile of the way

    Bearing a Name

    A Rank

    A Hometown

    He Honored Parents

    And Family’s

    He educated the Public

    Touched the Hearts of Children

    Never losing Faith

    We have traveled the many miles

    Over Mountains, into Valleys

    Across the Plains

    As he was faithful to Us

    We who watch over Him were faithful

    To you

    And Our Love of this Country

    His journey was long

    Not a easy task

    And all he asked

    Was for America to /Remember

    Those of us no longer here

    Those of us who knew

    We could die for you

    America

    As you made the last few miles

    Again the wind and rain

    Tears of Joy

    For one who Honored Us

    Honored Our Family’s

    Running

    From the Pacific Coast

    To the Atlantic Coast

    God Blesses Him

    We Thank Him

    Written by:
    Lori
    10/19/2010

    Tears of Joy knowing you left here on a wet and windy day and it ended the same way. Love will never end for you . And the Honor you have Paid to those many lost will never be forgotten
    Thanks Mike
    Hugs
    Lori

    Reply
  3. Linda Wright

    Thank you Mike for sharing your amazing journey and sharing some amazing miles and time with myself and Chuck in Fort Collins, CO. Please don’t be a stranger.

    You have touched so many and in your words that you have shared I know you have been touched by so many. Reading your words was like being right there with you. You are a great writer.

    So glad your two children were there to experience the last miles of your journey and Peggy also.

    Take care and let me know what is next in your amazing journey of life.

    Blessings, LINDA and CHUCK

    Reply
  4. kath

    May God give you…

    for every storm a rainbow,

    for every tear a smile,

    for every care a promise,

    and a blessing in each trail.

    Reply
  5. Jody

    Congratulations Mike, i really enjoyed reading your blog of your journey. Thank you for not letting us forget our fallen heros.

    Smiles and Hugs
    Jody from Nebraska

    Reply
  6. Coral Darby

    Mike,

    Thanks for articulating your journey is such an eloquent manner – it is an absolutely beautiful post and I cried my way through it. Thanks for being you.

    Reply
  7. Sandra

    It was raining on October 15 and I had lost my electricity and wasn’t sure when it would come back on. A minor inconvenience it would seem to what you were doing that morning. I had to come to Route 17 to see you run by. To see someone who had accomplished one of the most unselfish acts of remembrance I could imagine. I saw you and I remembered. Remembered receiving a white rose in honor of a young man named Sergio who was just 21 when he died in Iraq. He could have stayed in the United States having been wounded once but he felt he had a job to finish and comrades to support. He returned and he died leaving a young child to grow up without him. I didn’t know Sergio, or any of the young people who have died for me, but I kept his memory alive in the form of a dead rose on my table. I had taken half of the rose to Arlington Cemetary a few years ago and scattered the petals in that holy place. A week before your arrival I scattered the rest of the petals on my Dad’s grave. I felt it was a safe place for him to be since my Dad was a great man who always kept me safe. And now you have done this amazing thing. One person honoring many. I don’t think I have ever been so impressed! Thanks Mike.

    Reply
  8. desiree

    beautiful mike in every way….words don’t express……your miles and your memories remain forever in all of us and i know in the deepest part of your heart, the the most blessed memories ever will be……your children are so lucky and you are as well to have them by your side..what a beautiful gift our children are to us……love and life is so good and precious!……SO, now what????? With you, none of us can imagine that question about you? Look forward to seeing your whole journey on the final cd….hope to watch it with you too….hugs from the midwest…..des

    Reply
  9. desiree

    Final version of the Veterans Highway! Dean sent this to us to share with you Mike……Now we just need our solders to sing it to us while we run …lol

    Momma, Momma,

    Just want you to know,
    We’re running with Mike, to help him achieve his goal…
    Of honoring every fallen Iraqi veteran,
    Who gave their one and only life for freedoms and Americans,

    One American Flag, to salute………and always remember them,
    Every one mile all across this great great land…

    One Life,
    One Flag,
    Every One Mile we’re running, running with Mike.

    Papa Papa,

    Just want you to know,
    We’re running with Mike from the Pacific to the Atlantic shores,
    We gave our one life, answering the call,
    One American Flag stands for us, one and all!!!
    Every One Mile, we join hands,
    With living and fallen Iraqi Veterans,
    Standing shoulder to shoulder, Flags in hand,
    We form the Veterans Highway across this American Land!

    One Life,
    One Flag,
    Every One Mile we’re running, running with Mike!

    Mama, Papa, Family, Friends, and All,

    Running with Mike, we’re standing so tall!
    One American Flag, has so much meaning,
    Running this Veterans Highway, you’ll see them all streaming,
    Every one mile, across…this magnificent land,
    ALL flags bear the caring touch… of Mike’s hand!!!
    Standing shoulder to shoulder, Flags in hand,
    We form the Veterans Highway across this American Land!

    One Life,
    One Flag,
    Every One Mile we are running, running with Mike!!!

    Bareback

    Reply
  10. Carl Oesterle

    Congratulations and Thank You Mike.

    Reply
  11. corcovado

    I have only just learned about your heartfelt journey through the Mount Desert Island Marathon page on Facebook. I travelled up to Maine last week to participate in the marathon. It turns out you were in the area at the same time. I regret is that I did not know about Project America Run at the time. It would have been a tremendous honor to meet and run a bit with you.

    What you have done these past six months to honor the fallen soldiers is truly a labor of love. It is so important to know that somebody remembers and appreciates the sacrifices these men and women have made in order to protect our freedom.

    God bless you.

    Reply
  12. Amy Jones

    Mike- A job well done!! May these memories of your journey live in your heart forever. I see a book coming from you. I have thought of you often since you passed our house in northern Idaho and tracked your journey thru Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. Then I tuned in to the website as you neared the day of your flag tribute on October 14 to Nino Livaudais, my son’s childhood friend, I thought of Nino and my son playing Army as little boys do and remembered their laughter and friendship, as each took a different path in life. Then you placed the flag for Nino in Maine, a longway from his home in Utah but a little closer to our family’s heart.
    Thanks, Mike!!!

    Amy & Alan Jones
    Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho

    Reply
  13. Tim

    I’ve been following your blog ever since you stayed at our house in WA

    Your story is incredible and the pictures you have painted of America and American people are robust beyond anything I could begin to imagine. I really hope you put all this together into a book

    Reply
  14. Gail Sorrows

    To Mike and his team, I thank each of you for your dedication to this mission. You have brought attention to honoring our KIA’s. I can not imagine what Mike has gone through since he began planning this. May God bless each of you as He has blessed our lost Heroes. Again Thank you and I WILL NOT FORGET OUR LOST HEROES.

    Reply
  15. Charles Hamerle

    Dear Mike,

    My wife Sandy and I just want to say thank you for including us in your monumental undertaking! God speed you in your next endeavor!

    Reply
  16. Judy Boddery

    Mike,

    I do not know you. I did not see you run. Know of only one vet who has gone before me, for me, and heard of your quest when it was more than half way complete. But I spoke of you like you were my friend, like I knew who you were, where you were, and how your body must have felt. Proud of your accomplishments, felt your lonliness and rallied others to cheer you on too.
    Your true selfless act not only touched the lives of those that you encountered along your journey but the countless others, like myself, that were in awe of the pure thought of that journey. You are a true warrior, as were all of the soldiers that you pierced the earth for, each and every mile.
    I’m proud to have know you, even without knowing you. Thank you for making a difference.

    Judy Boddery
    Rochester, NY

    Reply
  17. Cindy Schmidt

    Dear Mike,

    Congratulations on the safe completion of your journey. Our family is so proud of you and your accomplishments. I am still drying my eyes from your commentary from the placing of your last three flags. Whenever you are back at “home” let’s try to get all the cousins and families together for a picnic or something. It’s been a LONG, LONG time since we have all been together.

    Until we meet again. God Bless.
    Cindy & family

    Reply
  18. Dustin

    I would like to say congradulations on completeing your incredible endeavour, and also thank you for allowing me to join you on your milledgville to rockfalls portion it was a great honor and truely a moment in my life i will never forget.

    Reply
  19. Brian & Jody Bea and Family

    Mike,

    It was such a pleasure to follow you along this journey. We will miss visiting your blog to see where you were at and reading your thoughts about the people you met. It was such an honor to meet you and share in this remembrance of our soldiers who lost their lives. Thank you again for your commitment and determination in finishing this great journey.

    The Beas

    Reply
  20. rhodesie

    Mike

    All the Chapman’s here in Rock Falls are very proud of you. We have 2 marines one state side and one in Afgh. God Bless our Troops
    Becky Chapman Rhodes

    Reply
  21. Jan Bundy

    Mike,

    So many times I thought of you, out there running, making our amazing veterans and the road your life. We were so sad to have to cancel as one of your hosts but we had one of our own to take care of. Just the immense love one feels for their child is overpowering and you opened your heart and mind to so many. Thank you Mike. Like all our Military personnel, you too have made a huge difference in many lives. I am proud to know you and though I know it was not your mission to do other than honor our Veterans, I thank you for enriching our lives too. With great respect, Jan

    Reply
  22. Barry Sites

    Mike, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours! Barry Sites

    Reply
  23. New Condo - Hill TwoOne

    Its such as you read my mind! You appear to grasp so much about this,
    such as you wrote the book in it or something. I believe that you could
    do with a few p.c. to pressure the message home a
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    Reply

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