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Deployed Airman reflects on Veterans Day run at 380th AEW

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Liz Cloyd
  • 380th Expeditionary Air Wing
Today is Veterans Day, Nov. 11. As I reflect on this day, I have thoughts that range from different sides of the gamut.

Veterans Day is a day the United States of America salutes its past and present service members. In an effort to give thanks to those who put their lives in harm's way, Americans do different things to celebrate this never-ending service. As today's numerical shorthand is 11/11/11, it seemed fitting that the run would be 11 km.

The air had a slight chill to it but it felt inviting, as if to say, "Today is a great day for a run. Today you are here not for yourself, but for those who served before you, for those who lost their lives to secure the freedoms of others, for those whose families anxiously wait for their return home and for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Today is not for you, but for others."

After a quick safety briefing, all the runners lined up. At 5:30 a.m. we were off.

As I ran with my wingman, I let my mind wander. I thought of my family -- my family who makes sacrifices every day and is awaiting my return from deployment. I thought of my brother and his family. I said a small prayer for his safety and their peace of mind as he prepares to depart on a deployment of his own. I thought of those who lost their lives in the most recent events, and my heart ached for their families. I looked around me and saw there was something shared between me and those who were running this morning. The other runners carried that same feeling. The volunteers who were handing out water, directing traffic and making the event happen -- none of them were there for the runners, not really. They were there in honor of those who served and continue to serve.

Watching my fellow runners move their feet -- first the left, then the right, followed by their left again -- I was filled with joy. I watched the miles add up on my Tom-Tom and I could not help but smile. With each person I passed on the "loops" of the run, I could not help but wave a small wave to each of them. In my mind, I was cheering them on. As I reached the last two miles, my mind was ecstatically screaming, "I can do this for those who came before me. I can do this for those I served with today. I can do this for the families that support service members with their sacrifices. I can do this."

My wingman looked over at me and said, "One and a half laps."

To which I responded, "I got this."

I know it came from deep within my heart that was filled with honor and pride.

As I rounded the last corner, my legs pumped harder.

Suddenly, I felt a surge and my mind saw wounded warriors, vets coming home for the last time and families with never-ending tears. I ran through the finish line and completed what was the most enjoyable run I could remember, for it was not for me. It was in honor of my fellow veterans.

As I tried to cool off after the run, my hands were shaking with pride. A small whisper echoed in my mind saying all gave some, some gave all.

As service members, we know that we are making ourselves available for the ultimate sacrifice. We are asked to wear our country's cloth, and with heads held high, we are examples to others. The United States of America is strong because there are those who raise their right hand and "solemnly swear to defend" it.

Master Sgt. Liz Cloyd is the 380th AEW command post superintendent. She is deployed from the 75th Air Base Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.