Tinker Air Force Base’s annual 9/11 POW-MIA Memorial 5K/2K Run/Ruck/Walk was carried out on Sept. 27, ensuring that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and all American soldiers who have ever been prisoners of war or are still missing in action are never forgotten.
The run was originally scheduled for the day following this year’s 24-hour POW-MIA Vigil, which took place on Sept. 12, but had to be rescheduled due to inclement weather.
“Events like this help us remember and let us pay tribute to those who paid those sacrifices,” Colonel Eddie Taylor, Vice Commander of the 72nd Air Base Wing, said during the opening ceremony for the memorial run.
More than 2,000 people registered for this year’s event. Along the course, runners could find various elements to help them better remember the impact of 9/11, as well as those who were POW or are still MIA. This included battlefield crosses and signs representing each conflict the United States has been involved. The signs also displayed the names of Oklahomans who were either POW or MIA from that particular conflict.
Small American and POW-MIA flags were handed out to runners as well. The POW-MIA flags contained names of Oklahomans who were either POW or are MIA while the American flags contained a name of a victim from 9/11.
“Roughly two weeks ago we came together for the vigil and some bad weather caused the run to be postponed, but during that vigil we had over 120 volunteers read over 4,000 names which is a great testament to how we care,” Taylor said. “We postponed the run for weather, but we should never get comfortable with what happened on 9/11 or what happened to our POWs. The theme to this is ‘Never Forget,’ but also never get comfortable with what happened.”
A shadow box was presented prior to the run as a symbol of resiliency through conflict. The tattered flags in the background of the box represent the spirit of the American people, with the two wood burned medallions signifying the idea that even though the nation has endured hardships, it will always rise from the ashes.
“We care about the people that paid the ultimate sacrifice, and we should never let their memory be forgotten,” Taylor said. “We also shouldn’t get comfortable that we still have people missing in action. We still have people who have not come home and the only time we will get comfortable in that is when they all come home.”