Often when Americans read or see statistics about servicemembers or veterans, they imagine strapping young men with buzz cuts. They often say things like 'bring back our boys' or speak of 'our fallen sons.' Though partially true, these assumptions and mental images often neglect the reality that many sisters and daughters raised their hand for the red, white, and blue as well.
To be sure, over 2.5 million women have served in the U.S. military since the Revolutionary War (this number is probably modest considering the number of women who used to dress as men to fight or who served in unofficial capacities). Nearly 300,000 servicewomen have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Of those, 160 women have given the ultimate sacrifice.
In 2011-2012, Navy Reserve Captain Nancy Lacore served in Afghanistan. Nancy counted herself very lucky to return to her family unharmed. Realizing her fortune and learning of the women who never made it home to their friends and families, she felt compelled to honor their service. Thus Valor Run was born.
This Saturday, October 18, I and a few other veterans will escort Nancy as she runs the last 10 miles of her 160-hour and 160-mile journey to honor the 160 servicewomen who have died while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fittingly, we will finish at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at the gates of Arlington Cemetery. Supporters are invited to run the final stretch to the Memorial with us.
Money raised during Valor Run will support Wounded Wear, an organization providing custom clothing to wounded warriors, and the Women's Memorial, the only monument and museum in the United States that honors the contributions of servicewomen from all eras.
On Saturday I look forward to running and reflecting. We will run past the Pentagon, a building forever changed by hostile acts over thirteen years ago; by monuments of great leaders; along the National Mall, where many social movements and fights for rights have begun; and on Memorial Bridge, across which lies the most solemn and humbling plot of acreage in America. The scrolling images of the 160 fallen sisters will be in my mind. All of us gave some, but these women gave all. And for that, we owe them this modest commemoration.