Rain puddled in a sagging section of the star-spangled canopy that sheltered the public-address system. The city of DuPonts annual Memorial Day ceremony was about to start.
City Councilman Mike Courts, a retired colonel, sensed the danger a moment too late. The puddle slid over the canopy edge and drenched him mid-dodge. All he could do was offer a dripping smile.
We wanted to do this in the great Northwest tradition, said Courts, former I Corps Chief of Staff at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The rain didnt deter those who came to watch the ceremony, or the scores of runners who gathered Monday for the citys annual Run for the Fallen.
Teresa Maggart ran 10 miles because it was a big, tough number that would make her husband proud.
Sgt. Brandon Maggart died in August 2010. Iraqi insurgents attacked his artillery battery in Basra. The Lewis-McChord soldier was on his second deployment.
Teresa Maggart, 29, never ran much before her husbands death. He was the runner in their family. The soldier from Missouri had a natural gift on the track that propelled him to the front of the pack without practice.
Teresa found her running shoes in the months after his passing. She heard about Wear Blue: Run to Remember, the DuPont-based running group that pays respect to fallen service members. She joined and found a sense of community that helped her live with her grief.
If theyd never taken me in, I dont know where Id be, said Maggart, who settled in DuPont.
She brought her son, Blake, to Mondays run. He was 2 when his dad died. Now he wears a shirt with his dads photo and joins in short runs with his mom. Teresa wants her son to know his fathers sacrifice can be celebrated as well as mourned.
This is how we remember Daddy, she said.
Wear Blue organized Mondays run. Participants pledged a number of miles that represented a significant number to the friends or loved ones they lost at war.
Wear Blue co-founder Lisa Hallet of Steilacoom ran 15 miles the number matches the combined ages of her three children. Their father and her husband, Capt. John Hallet, died in August 2009 when his Stryker hit an enemy mine in southern Afghanistan.
The running group originally gelled around Hallets 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. It expanded to include other Lewis-McChord units and now has a chapter at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Many participants in Mondays event were active-duty military families running in the memory of fallen comrades, or spouses of deployed soldiers. One was Rachel Elizalde-Powell, a co-president of the Wear Blue group, who spoke at Mondays ceremony.
She drives down every weekend from her home in Renton to run for her brother, Sgt. 1st-Class Adrian Elizalde, who died in 2007.
It may seem like its a somber moment for us to be out there, she said. But the reason that we join together every Saturday is so that we may remember each and every one of those men and women that gave the ultimate sacrifice had legacies, had lives and had stories. So as we run, we join together with the rest of the runners and tell stories about our loved ones.
Lt. Gen. Robert Brown, commanding general of I Corps, delivered Mondays keynote address. Next to him sat retired Army Master Sgt. Wilburn Ross, 92, a Medal of Honor recipient. The stone memorial in DuPonts Ross Plaza is named for him.
Brown acknowledged the old soldier, then underlined a name he knew well, one of 16 carved into the memorial: Master Sgt. Brian Mack, killed in Mosul, Iraq in 2005. Brown served with Mack and knew his nicknames: Mack Daddy, The Mack Attack.
He was just a great teacher, a role model, a soldiers soldier, and soldiers loved him, Brown said.
Turning to Wear Blue runners standing in the drizzle, Brown thanked them.
Its great ideas like that that help us remember, he said.
One of the runners was Jessica Alley, 33. Her husband, Chaplain Capt. Will Alley, is deployed in Afghanistan with Lewis-McChords 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
Jessica ran five miles Monday: one for each of the five men lost in a single attack on one of her husbands former units in February 2009.
Her husband ran, too from long distance in Afghanistan. Hes a regular at Wear Blue when hes home. Monday, he ran three miles for soldiers lost during different phases of his military career.
It's an amazing time when we take the focus off ourselves and our own hardships, to remember those who have given all, those who are left behind, and those still fighting, Jessica Alley said.