Rye runners remember NH troops
Posters bearing the images of 66 New Hampshire soldiers who have lost their lives in the global wars on terrorism since 2001 lined the 12-mile course, and beside many stood family members of those soldiers.
The run was an opportunity for participants to stop and personally thank the families for their sacrifice.
';Hero buddies'; stood with posters of soldiers whose families could not attend.
About 350 runners and walkers participated in the event, including U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
Along the course, runners lined up to shake hands, give hugs and say thank you to mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who have lost a loved one.
In return, the families cheered on the runners and thanked them for participating.
';It's a very emotional day,'; Joyce Bertolino said, standing next to an image of her son, Pfc. Matthew Bertolino, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006. ';It is good so see that more people are here to honor his sacrifice and the sacrifice of all the others. It is what every parent would want, to make sure their child is remembered.';
Matthew Bertolino, 20, was Joyce Bertolino's only son. Right after Sept. 11 he talked about joining the Marines and would not be swayed.
';He felt it was a duty, a calling,'; Joyce Bertolino said.
She said her son was loving, giving and had a great laugh. He also gave great hugs, and just hoped to make a difference in the world. He planned to become a police officer when returning home from war.
Nancy Geary was surrounded by family giving out fresh fruit, cookies and water to runners that passed by the image of her son, Michael Geary, who was also killed in action while serving in Afghanistan.
';It helps my heart that people remember Michael and the others,'; Nancy Geary said. ';It helps me to heal every time and makes me even more proud of him than I was.';
Michael Geary's uncle, Angus Douglas, said he had never hugged so many people in one day.
Dianne Childs of Manchester said her biggest fear was that her son, Spc. William Tracy, would be forgotten. He was killed in action in 2003.
';It has been a long time so it is nice people come out and do remember,'; Childs said. ';And it makes you feel kind of not alone because of the other pictures and parents here.';
Her son was tall, and handsome, she said. He liked to play soccer, loved adrenaline and joined the military because he wanted to fly airplanes.
After four years in the Marines, he re-enlisted in the Army to fly with Black Hawk helicopters and travel.
He went to Germany, Africa and Italy before deploying to Kuwait, where he was killed in a helicopter crash.
At the end of the run, all of the participants and families gathered at the Odiorne Point boat launch to finish the run to the state park together.
They each carried small American flags, which were placed in an open area filled with images of the fallen soldiers.
';It's just an event that benefits everybody who is a part of it,'; run organizer Julie Hurrie of Hampton Falls said.
The event was free for participants. Funds raised through a lunch offered following the event, and T-shirt sales help organizers bring families back to the event.