In 2010, wear blue founder Lisa Hallett and 22 other women toed the start line at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon & ½ Marathon for their very first race together. Many of them had recently lost husbands, fathers, and friends to the violence of war, including Lisa’s husband John. Today, wear blue: run to remember has more than 3,000 members worldwide, including active service members currently overseas. More than 200 participate each year at Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle.
What is wear blue: run to remember?
wear blue: run to remember is a national nonprofit running community that honors the service and sacrifice of the American Military. We create a support network for military members and their families, bridge the gap between military and civilian communities and create a living memorial for our country’s fallen military members. wear blue: run to remember exists for the fallen, for the fighting and for the families.
Weekly, wear blue athletes meet to honor the fallen and train. At the start of their run, the names of the fallen are called out in a Circle of Remembrance. Then, wear blue runners call out the names of those for whom they personally run – their husbands, wives, children, parents, siblings, battle buddies, neighbors and/or friends.
At official wear blue events, American flags are lined along the race course to honor the Fallen, a tribute called the wear blue mile. Placed in front of these flags are large posters with photographs of the Fallen. The wear blue mile humanizes the ultimate sacrifice made by these American Heroes.
wear blue: run to remember has an active chapter at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (WA) and Fort Bragg (NC). Additionally, there are several meet-up locations around the country. wear blue is an all-inclusive community in which participants are never asked to raise money to run.
What is the meaning behind the color blue?
wear blue: run to remember was founded following the redeployment of 5-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, a unit that, while deployed to Afghanistan, sustained significant casualties. During that deployment, a small group of wives and supporting brigade staff met weekly to run, seeking to create a support network for one another during this challenging and heartbreaking deployment.
To recognize one another and show unit support, the runners were encouraged to wear the unit physical training shirt, which was blue in color and bore the unit’s crest and mascot. As the organization grew, the first official shirts were designed, staying connected to the original blue color. Blue further highlights the organization’s fierce pride in its nation, as one of the colors that flies proudly in our American flag.
How does running connect to the struggles of military life and sacrifice? What do you love about lacing up and hitting the pavement?
For our military personnel and their families, running is a tangible accomplishment in a world that is changing constantly, including frequent and difficult deployments. Running is hard. And it is in the moments of committed, challenging training that runners are able to connect with their thoughts, memories, and inspirations.
It is in the steps of a run where the hurt, the speed, the greater goal mutates into the knowledge that we are truly giving our all and being our best…which we then carry into the footsteps of our lives.
This group is not just for those directly involved with the military – how does it bridge the gap to the rest of us?
People often want to support our military but are not sure how to show it. Military families sacrifice a great deal. And sometimes they sacrifice everything. wear blue: run to remember gives the community a chance to stand next to their military counterparts… and through their actions say, “Thank you. I am grateful for what you give to me and our country.”
In the steps of a long run, the lines of military and civilian continue to disappear, and we are able to connect, share, and learn about one another and the lives of the men and women for whom we run, remember, and honor.
As Veterans Day approaches, what do you hope people remember?
I hope that our country finds great joy that there are people, patriots, who love something bigger than all of us and are so committed that they are even willing to die for it. That is deeply profound, and Veteran’s Day is an opportunity for us to celebrate and acknowledge that.
The scariest part of losing someone is that the lives they led will be forgotten. wear blue is a way to preserve a memory and offers a place to be asked about the service member who has been killed: it’s a platform. Men and women who I have never met, who have been killed serving their country, have become a dear part of my life. They have become alive to me through the stories of their friends and family in the steps of our runs. And the incredible lives that they led inspire me to live and be more.
My personal hope for Veteran’s Day is that someone pauses and remembers how good my late husband John was. I hope that this person remembers that John loved his soldiers and fought for them. I hope that my kids remember John’s love and joy for them. I hope that on Veteran’s Day, someone…somewhere… runs and celebrates John’s life with me.
How can people get involved with wear blue?
Getting involved with wear blue is as simple as putting on a blue shirt, pausing to remember the fallen, and making the steps of your run purposeful. When we run in blue, we remind our streets, our neighborhoods, our communities, our world…that freedom is NOT free. And we honor these service members.
If you live near a wear blue chapter or meet-up, join for a Saturday morning run! wear blue activities are always at no cost to participants. Information can be found here or at the wear blue: run to remember’s Facebook page.
You can also join us at races across the country, including the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon & ½ Marathon and Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington DC Marathon & ½ Marathon. Come run with us, volunteer on the course at the wear blue mile, or just put on your blue shirt and come cheer us on!