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6 days to go: To God & My Country

September 24, 2012

Those who have attended previous Reed’s Runs know of a special ritual that we have each year.  The ritual is the placing of 12 American flags at the beginning of the race course.  Each flag is placed by a veteran that has a special place in our family or in Reed’s life.  We have had every military skirmish since World War II represented in that flag line.  Military operations, such as Black Hawk Down also known as the Battle of Mogadishu, and Desert Storm as well as Vietnam, Korea, and Iraq/Afghanistan are represented.  Seeing those 12 beautiful flags flying is one of the highlights of the day for this veteran’s wife.

Most do not know the background behind the significance of that simple recognition and placing of those flags.  Twelve flags – one for each year Reed lived – mark the path for the runners for the beginning and the finish of the race course.  The decision to continue this tradition each year has been because of an oath that Reed pledged at Boy Scouts.

The Boy Scout Oath

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

Reed’s faith is something that has been a core memory at each run, but his love of country is lesser known.  Reed was so proud of his dad, a veteran of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.  He took pride in his dad’s service, and he went out of his way to thank men and women in uniform.  It’s just something we do in this family.  But he took his love a little bit farther than most his age.

He was fully aware of some of the protests throughout our world, and he wasn’t opposed to the right to assemble.  He never minded when groups protested war, but it was a different story when people protested soldiers.  Then it was personal.  Reed was fully aware of the reception his adopted grandpa and football coach received when he returned from Vietnam.  He was equally aware of how much of a sacrifice military personnel make for each of us.  Protesting soldiers simply just made him mad.  We once had to practically sit on him when we accidently drove in the midst of a protest in Mankato and we were jeered because we were in a vehicle with veteran’s plates.  After that moment, Reed simply asked us to avoid any protests because it was too upsetting.

He wanted the whole world to understand that “no greater love hath a man than to lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (ISV) He knew that the bench that sits at Lakeview school on the way to the Memory Garden wasn’t there to be pretty.  It represented a real Lakeview Laker. A real soldier. A real man. A real husband. A real son.  The bench is memory of Jason Timmerman.  Reed followed the story in school of how the street in front of the armory in Marshall was to be changed from Armory Drive to Timmerman Drive.  Every day, EVERY DAY, until I was almost exhausted from doing it, Reed begged and pleaded with us to drive by there until that sign was up.  He just had to see it.  When it finally changed, he was PROUD.

It is so easy to take something for granted, especially something as insignificant as a piece of cloth.  Not for those of us who understand that lives have been changed for that piece of cloth.  A whole lot of love and sacrifice and honor and duty are wrapped up in her waving beauty.  In one of his sweetest moments, Reed got down on his knee and explained to his baby sister when she was only 2 years old what a sea of flags represented at Mattke field.  In reality, each flag represented a life lost in the Iraqi war.  But in his own sweet way, he told Cloie that the flags were special because each one of them were about someone who loved her.  I would have to say that he was right.

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