WRAIR Commemorates 9/11 with Remembrance Miles Event

Members from Walter Reed Army Institute of Research continue walk and ruck along the course during the 9/11 Remembrance Miles event at Forest Glen Annex, Sept. 10, 2021.  Soldiers, civilians, and community members took part in the event to honor the 2,977 lives lost 20 years ago by walking 2,977 miles in 24-hours.  Virtual participants could submit their miles through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using #WRAIRMiles or through the event email, WRAIR24HRRemembrancemiles@gmail.com.

SILVER SPRING, Md. – Members from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) hosted a 9/11 Remembrance Miles 24-Hour Walk/Run at Forest Glen Annex, Sept. 10-11, 2021.

The event was held to remember the 2,977 lives lost 20 years ago during the terrorist attacks by walking 2,977 miles in their honor. Soldiers, civilians and community members took part in the event, which consisted of participants walking, running or rucking in a loop around WRAIR.

“Our goal is to really keep our promise that we made 20 years ago that we would never forget,” said Capt. Shanee Allen, Headquarters and Headquarters Company Commander. “It’s a time for us to honor the 2,977 lives that were lost and remember them individually and to celebrate the lives.”

Participants were given a square, blue and white sticker, with the name of one person for each mile they walked, ran or rucked to keep track of the miles traveled. The 2,977 names were also printed on white boards and displayed in front of the Daniel K. Inouye Building, where event staff checked off names for completed travel.

“As we tally the miles we will also read off the names across this board so that we can see collectively as a community how we’ve achieved our goal,” Allen said.

Col. Robert O’Connell, WRAIR deputy commander, provided remarks during an opening ceremony where he honored the dedication and courage of first responders and remembered the lives lost.

“On 9/11, there were heroic people who lost their lives charging towards collapsing buildings, buildings on fire, and we need to honor their memory,” O’Connell said. “Many of you volunteered, and tens of thousands of people went to mostly Southwest Asia and parts around the country to prosecute our war against terrorism.”

He also spoke about the event symbolism while noting the cost to service members and the importance of recognizing the heroic efforts that continue to be an inspiration for the generations of today and tomorrow.

"That caused family separation, injury, and death, and that's a part of the story of 9/11 that we must never forget," O'Connell said. "Those heroic sacrifices are part of what we are commemorating over the next 24 hours."

The in-person walk/run began at 9:11 a.m. on a 1.5-mile course lined with American flags, which started and finished at the Inouye Building. Members, families, and friends passed the commissary, fitness center, and basketball courts on their journey. They also walked past the National Museum of Health and Medicine, where a memorial to Lt. Col. Karen J. Wagner stood. Wagner served as a medical personnel officer in the Office of the Army Surgeon General and Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel when she was one of the 125 people killed at the Pentagon that day.

“We’re doing this for all the people that lost their lives on 9/11,” Sgt. Ryan Francis, Logistics, property book NCO, said. “We’re here together as a family and walking, rucking and running in their memory.”

The event also encouraged virtual participation from anywhere in the world. Participants could submit their miles through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using #WRAIRMiles or through the event email, WRAIR24HRRemembrancemiles@gmail.com. In fact, in the 24 hours, event staff received submissions from local community members, participants in Honolulu, Hawaii, and even Bangkok Thailand, where WRAIR’s expeditionary laboratory Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences resides.

As the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks drew near some reflected on 9/11 and why it is important that we continue to help young people learn about the attacks.

“Our lives in America changed forever that day, we realized that the United States was not necessarily invincible,” Jennifer Adkins, Ft. Detrick-Forest Glen Annex, installation manager, said. “It’s important to share that with our children that were born after 9/11, so that they understand the way it has affected us.”

After 24 hours the team had accumulated 1,933 miles, but the event organizer leadership team pledged to continue tracking miles until the goal was achieved. As of Sept. 16 the total was at 2,307 miles and increasing every hour.

“I’m very thankful that everyone has come and joined in the remembrance of the lives that were lost,” Master Sgt. Elizabeth Marroquin, Operations and Security NCOIC, said.