HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The 35th Annual Cotton Row Run is in the history books, with more than 5,000 runners competing in either the 10K, 5K or one-mile fun run. For many runners, the race is a Memorial Day tradition. However, for most of its life, the run’s connection with a solemn day of national remembrance was only tangential. It wasn’t until several years ago that organizers even began printing race t-shirts in patriotic colors.
This year, they determined to do much more and asked Survivor Outreach Services for help. SOS, as it’s known, is an Army program that provides long-term support to families of fallen service members within the 11 counties surrounding Redstone Arsenal. Program officials organized a special tribute along the first quarter-mile of the race route. Pictures of 31 local military members – many of them killed in Iraq and Afghanistan – lined the road. Behind the photos, stood volunteers holding American flags.
Many runners were moved by the memorial, especially the 70 members of SOS who took part in the race. As they begin looking ahead to next year, race organizers say they would like to continue adding more patriotic elements to this Memorial Day tradition.