“To Them That’s Gone: A Film for the Fallen” Enters Final Fundraising Push
In the summer of 2008, Jon Bellona and a crew of runners set out on a transcontinental run– the Run for the Fallen— from Fort Irwin, CA to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, one mile for each member of the American military killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The group had a powerfully uncomplicated mission statement:
Run for the Fallen is a collective of runners whose mission is clear and simple: To run one mile for every American service member killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On June 14, 2008, we run across America to raise awareness about the lives of those who fought, to activate their memories and keep their spirits alive, to support organizations that help wounded veterans and the families of those killed (Wounded Warrior Project, Yellow Ribbon Fund, HUGSS (Helping Unite Gold Star Survivors), and the 1st Lt. Michael J. Cleary Memorial Fund), and to aid the healing process for those Americans whose lives have been affected by the war.
We refuse any political affiliation or agenda, but simply honor those who have fought, and those who have fallen under the American flag.
Each of the over 4,000 miles was dedicated to one individual soldier, and an American flag and card personalized for that solider were affixed along the route as mile-markers.
While Bellona had a core of runners who joined him for the entirety of the journey, many other runners joined the group for various stretches. In addition, a film crew followed the group from pre-run preparation through the run’s conclusion, documenting it in its entirety.
The film, entitled To Them That’s Gone: A Film for the Fallen, is an integral component of the run because it advances the mission of the run– to honor the individual, specific, identified lives of those American servicemen and women who died in the Iraq war– by preserving all of those stories and broadcasting them to a wider audience.
I was working in Kentucky in the summer of 2008, and after my job ended in early August, I joined the run in northeastern Tennessee for a scant twenty-four hours, running just two miles on the route between New Tazewell and Van Hill. But a blip in the life of the run and in my own life’s timescale, that time registers among the most emotionally powerful moments of my life, and I am extremely grateful for it.
As Bellona consistently emphasized, though, the run wasn’t about the runners. It’s about those being honored, and the telling of their stories. The run, as a happening, told those stories, and the film serves the same purpose in a larger and more permanent fashion. The film crew is in a final fundraising push to finish their work, and they’ve given themselves thirty days (twenty-seven now remain) to raise the money they need. If you’re interested in backing their effort, the Kickstarter.com page is here. While on this page, view the trailer:
More video clips are available here, and still photos are available here. Finally and again, more information about this fundraising effort, including how to donate, is available at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1670101310/to-them-thats-gone-a-film-for-the-fallen.