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……….

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8 Responses to “Three, Two, One…….Done”

  1. John Holland Says:

    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!

  2. Lori Says:

    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

  3. Linda Wright Says:

    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

  4. kath Says:

    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.

  5. desiree Says:

    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

  6. desiree Says:

    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

  7. Carl Oesterle Says:

    Congratulations and Thank You Mike.

  8. Charles Hamerle Says:

    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!

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