Gold Star Wife runs To Keep Fallen Soldiers Memory Alive

MilitaryConnection.com is honored to feature this article about Salina Jimenez.  I met Salina through my friend, Bonnie Carroll, who founded TAPS, Tragedy Assistance for Survivors.  TAPS provides supports and grief camps for families of fallen soldiers.

Salina is very special and has an amazing energy, whether she is running *or* talking to you.  She has experienced the horrific tragedy of losing the love of her life but keeps her husband’s memory alive by running marathons.
I have had the opportunity and pleasure to spend time with TAPS widows and I am in awe of them.  These special women are inspirational with their strength and spirits.  They have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and for this I will forever be in their debt.

Debbie Gregory
CEO, MilitaryConnection.com

—————-

October 31, 2010|By Bethany Crudele, CNN

For some athletes, running the Marine Corps Marathon is about the exhilaration of running 26.2 miles, pushing through one”s physical limits and the thrill of taking those first steps past the finish line. It requires months of dedicated training and grueling discipline.

But for other runners, like Salina Jimenez, it”s about something larger than herself.

Jimenez laced up her sneakers Sunday to pay tribute to her late husband, Army Sgt. David Jimenez Almazan, a combat medic from Van Nuys, California.

Almazan was killed in 2006 by a roadside bomb in Iraq just three weeks after his deployment. He was 27.

Jimenez, a Huntington Beach, California resident who has run two other marathons, says she runs to keep the memory of her husband alive.

“Every mile is a memory,” Jimenez said. “He once said that life is about the memories, so every mile creates a new memory that we”re able to share and experience with other runners.”

Almazan, a native of Mexico, was granted American citizenship posthumously.

As she prepared for the race, Jimenez wanted people to remember her husband for the man that he was. In addition to loving soccer and salsa dancing, Almazan also loved the country he died for, she said.

Jimenez ran as a member of a team fielded by Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a group that supports surviving family members of loved ones lost in combat. This year, 265 runners ran for TAPS” “Run and Remember Team.”

Like many of her teammates, Jimenez ran with a photo of her husband pinned to the lapel of her jersey, one that she carries for every race.

“I keep it close to my heart,” she says, “David was an amazing man. He was a medic, so he cared about people. He would take the shirt off his back for you even if you were a stranger and that”s what motivates me to get out there and pound pavement.”

Minutes before Jimenez approached the starting line, she shared her angst about the course, which ends with a final hill up to the finish line near the Iwo Jima Memorial. It”s considered the final challenge of the runner”s journey.
Some 8,597 current and former military personnel participated in the 35th Marine Corps marathon, which took athletes through Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. Nearly 22,000 total runners finished the event.

Security was heightened for Sunday”s race due to recent shots fired by an unknown gunman *or* gunmen at various Marine Corps military sites.

In the final leg of the race, Jimenez said she thought about the day she found out her husband was killed. At mile 25, with little strength left, she said she got a rush of energy before making her final quest up the hill. “It was like he was right there. I could hear him saying, ”Are you done yet? Hurry up!””

Like most runners, she admitted to she doubts as she approached the last few miles: “I said, ”I don”t know if I can do this, David. I love you.””

But the hill signified much more. “It”s the journey, it”s the climb, it”s equivalent to the journey we”re on, the grief journey.”

Jimenez says she”ll definitely be back for next year”s marathon, which offers no prize money and is dubbed the “People”s Marathon.”

“Even though that day took away something special, he lives in all these miles,” she said afterward. “It was phenomenal.”

Letter from First Lady Michelle Obama

Debbie Gregory, CEO of MilitaryConnection.com, was sent this letter from the White House.  We believe that the violent shootings in Tucson are difficult for adults to deal with, and even harder for our children.   We hope these words from the First Lady will help.

An Open Letter to Parents Following the Tragedy in Tucson

Posted by First Lady Michelle Obama on January 13, 2011 at 06:07 PM EST

Dear parents,

Like so many Americans all across the country, Barack and I were shocked and heartbroken by the horrific act of violence committed in Arizona this past weekend.  Yesterday, we had the chance to attend a memorial service and meet with some of the families of those who lost their lives, and both of us were deeply moved by their strength and resilience in the face of such unspeakable tragedy.

As parents, an event like this hits home especially hard.  It makes our hearts ache for those who lost loved ones.  It makes us want to hug our own families a little tighter.  And it makes us think about what an event like this says about the world we live in – and the world in which our children will grow up.

In the days and weeks ahead, as we struggle with these issues ourselves, many of us will find that our children are struggling with them as well.  The questions my daughters have asked are the same ones that many of your children will have – and they don’t lend themselves to easy answers.  But they will provide an opportunity for us as parents to teach some valuable lessons – about the character of our country, about the values we hold dear, and about finding hope at a time when it seems far away.

We can teach our children that here in America, we embrace each other, and support each other, in times of crisis.  And we can help them do that in their own small way – whether it’s by sending a letter, ****or**** saying a prayer, ****or**** just keeping the victims and their families in their thoughts.

We can teach them the value of tolerance – the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us.  We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.

We can also teach our children about the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country and by their families.  We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it.

Christina Green felt that call.  She was just nine years old when she lost her life.  But she was at that store that day because she was passionate about serving others.  She had just been elected to her school’s student council, and she wanted to meet her Congresswoman and learn more about politics and public life.

And that’s something else we can do for our children – we can tell them about Christina and about how much she wanted to give back.  We can tell them about John Roll, a judge with a reputation for fairness, about Dorothy Morris, a devoted wife to her husband, her high school sweetheart, to whom she’d been married for 55 years, about Phyllis Schneck, a great-grandmother who sewed aprons for church fundraisers, about Dorwan Stoddard, a retired construction worker who helped neighbors down on their luck, and about Gabe Zimmerman, who did community outreach for Congresswoman Giffords, working tirelessly to help folks who were struggling, and was engaged to be married next year.  We can tell them about the brave men and women who risked their lives that day to save others.  And we can work together to honor their legacy by following their example – by embracing our fellow citizens, by standing up for what we believe is right, and by doing our part, however we can, to serve our communities and our country.

Sincerely,

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is the First Lady of the United States

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/01/13/open-letter-parents-following-tragedy-tucson

The Hero

The holidays are a time of joy and reunion for many.  It is also the time of year when we reflect back on the passing year.  All of us at MilitaryConnection.com would like to express our thanks and gratitude to those who serve our country, past and present. To the families who have a loved one deployed, we say thank you from a grateful nation for your sacrifices as well. To the parents of our service members, we thank you for raising a patriot who understands the importance of fighting to preserve the freedoms we hold dear. By doing so, you also have contributed to keeping America safe. We invite you to listen to a wonderful song by our friend, Micaela Bensko, called The Hero. Be safe, and have a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Debbie Gregory and the Staff at MilitaryConnection.com