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4,000-mile Run for the Fallen reaches its Arlington goal

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 24, 2008

See a photo gallery from the final day of the Run for the Fallen here.

See a video at the end of the story.

A ten-week, 4000-run from California to the nation's capital in honor of a fallen friend came to a successful conclusion Sunday morning when New York native Jon Bellona led a pack of runners to a finish line at the gates of Arlington National Cemetery.

Bellona organized the event to honor his Hamilton College roommate, Army 1st Lt. Michael Cleary, who was killed in Iraq in 2005.

"Run for the Fallen is a living record," an exhausted, emotional Bellona told the crowd at the finish. "It is not just dedicated to the more than 4,000 men and women who gave their lives, but to the families, loved ones and active duty currently in harm's way."

"Today we've come over 10 million steps to be here at the doorstep of the most sacred place in America, Arlington National Cemetery."

Bellona said that the key moment in the run for him came in Texas, where he saw a sign dedicated to a local servicemember that said "May we remember his life, not his death."

"The quote by someone I never met made me think about Mike Cleary and all the moments we shared together. It made me proud to have known him and made me proud to be an American."

"We have to ask ourselves," he added, "'how will we continue to remember the fallen? How will we continue to keep their spirits alive?'"

The runners taking part in the final day's event included relatives and friends of those who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. After the run, the group continued on to Arlington's Section 60, where many of the recent casualties are buried.

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