Before daybreak on Friday, more than 1,800 service members and civilians gathered at McGlachlin Parade Field for the Fort Meade Joint Service Resilience and Remembrance Run.
The annual event is held in remembrance of 9/11 and to commemorate Suicide Awareness & Prevention Month.
After lining up in formation, each of the units and members of several Fort Meade agencies ran the 3.6-mile route from Llewellyn Avenue to Broadfoot Road, Taylor Avenue, Rock Avenue and Ernie Pyle Street, before circling back to Llewellyn.
Each service branch ran to its own cadence while carrying its unit flag.
The groups returned to the parade field for a few words from Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard.
“Good morning, Team Meade,” Rickard shouted. “Remember that we serve not only our nation, but each other.
“September is Suicide Awareness Month, so I encourage you to take care of your battle buddies and each other. Remain strong and look out for one another.”
Participating units included U.S. Cyber Command, the 902nd Military Intelligence Group, Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion and Cryptologic Warfare Group 6.
“To me, suicide prevention means to have active and intrusive leadership with your Marines — being involved in not just their professional lives, but personal lives,” Marine Capt. John Straub said.
Straub said he is aware of the far-reaching effects of suicide and what it means to have each other’s back.
“Suicide affects all of us, not just on the immediate area, but the second- and third-order effects,” he said.
Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. John Tiffany had a personal reason for taking part in the run.
“I know several people who have committed suicide,” he said. “Being there for all of my Marines — holding them up and helping them when they need it — is suicide prevention to me.”
Army Squad Leader Sgt. Cosdyn Akers stressed the importance of service members looking out for everyone within and outside their branch.
“Watching out for the person to the left and right of you is important,” he said. “Looking out for warning signs for anyone that’s around you is key.
“We’re all taught the same suicide prevention, so it’s important that we stay mindful and keep an eye out for everyone around us.”
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Church said he participated to show that he cares.
“I didn’t run for anyone in particular; I ran for everybody,” he said. “I ran for anyone that I know who’s committed suicide, anyone who hasn’t and anyone who feels depressed or maybe has suicide ideology.
“I ran for them because it’s important to let them know that we’re here and we care,” Church said. “Please reach out and get the help that you need.”
Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal tendencies, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).