Tears filled her eyes as veteran Talei Bing tried to describe the feeling of being part of carrying the U.S. flag across Flower Mound in an inaugural event slated for Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” said the former U.S. Armed Forces veteran who currently serves with the Army National Guard. “It’s great to have the community come together to carry the flag. When I see that, I’m proud.”
Talei will be one of at least three veterans among the 20 runners and walkers needed to carry the flag in a 15-mile relay course that winds around at least eight to nine school campuses in a loop that begins and ends at Lakeside DFW in Flower Mound.
The event begins at 7 a.m. and will continue until 6 p.m. with three loops around the town to continually fly the flag from sunrise to sunset. Runners are being sought to take turns in the relay-style event which involves 5k intervals between stations for a total of about 62 miles. On the last leg of the loop, walkers are also being accepted to take part.
The idea started with Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden after he spotted John Scully running with the flag through Flower Mound.
“I thought it was a cool thing for us to do,” Hayden said. “The idea is to celebrate veterans.”
Scully, a longtime runner, was moved to start carrying the flag on special occasions after 9/11. It was a way, he said, to “ask people to remember.”
In the years since he began, Scully has heard from veterans who are moved by seeing him carry the flag. So when the mayor approached him, Scully jumped at the idea of creating an annual event in the town where he lives.
“It (Veteran’s Day) is a holiday of remembrance, of giving thanks,” Scully said. “To have this going on all day, that’s where I think people will be touched.”
It wasn’t long before the idea became reality as local officials, businesses and residents began to join in the planning of the inaugural event. Normandy Homes is donating the use of one of their spacious homes as a location for the after party event where runners, veterans and residents are asked to meet for refreshments, entertainment and support of the men and women who serve in the military. Custom Ink is partnering with the town to create t-shirts for the runners to commemorate the event.
The mayor is also writing a letter to send out to principals of school campuses in Flower Mound detailing the event and the history of Veteran’s Day with the hope that school officials will use it as a learning opportunity. They also hope students will be allowed outdoors to support the runners as they go by.
“This will be an educational experience for the children,” Hayden said.
Town officials will keep residents apprised of where the runners are throughout the day on the town’s Twitter page. In addition, police cruisers will escort the runners with a patrol car in front and one in back with a bicycle patrol officer alongside. A golf cart filled with medical and water supplies will follow closely behind as support.
The hope is to get 50-60 runners joining in the special event, officials said, adding they need at least 20 participants to complete the relay course around the town three times. Volunteers are also being sought to place flags ever quarter of a mile along the course.
Anyone interested in running, walking or volunteering for the event can sign up on the town’s website under Parks & Recreation/Special Events. Residents can also sign up at the Flower Mound Community Activity Center. Though officials hope participants will sign up before the event, those who opt to show up at the last minute will be welcome.
Hayden said he envisions the event growing each year to become a significant community celebration of veterans in Flower Mound. And soon, he said, residents will have restaurants and other venues to visit at Lakeside DFW, which is why he wanted to launch and end the event at the development currently under construction.
The run will take place regardless of the weather except in the event of lightning, due to the flags.
Scully said he has run with the flag in rain, sleet and snow but stops during lightning storms for safety reasons.
Emma Lewis, who runs cross country for the Flower Mound High School Jaguars and is also part of ROTC, is excited about running in the event. Her mother, Susan Lewis, heard about it and mentioned it to her daughter. Both were interested because of their family history. Both of Emma’s grandfathers served in World War II
“I think it’s a great honor to be able to represent veterans – to do something I love in honor of a great cause,” she said.
Scully is excited about the opportunity to share his experiences of running while carrying the flag with others in the community.
“As a guy who has run with the flag a number of times, it’s an amazing feeling,” Scully said. “When you get the flag going, you think about who you’re running for.”