Start: Pentagon Memorial
End: Washington DC Engine 29, Truck 5
Map: Google Map
Date: Sep 16, 06:07 PM
Target Pace: 15 minutes per mile
As leader of Stage 68 of the The Great American Relay supporting first responders and the military, I dedicate our first mile to Kathrine Switzer’s father, US Army Colonel Homer Switzer and his loving wife of 59 years, Virginia. A career military man and an award-winning teacher whose self-sacrifice and fearless devotion to helping others around the world made a difference not only to Kathrine’s life but to many, many others. My relay team will take the baton starting at the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon and run past the Homer and Virginia’s gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery. Gone, but never forgotten.
"Military Life Summary" written by Kathrine Switzer:
Military Service, the US Army, completely and positively changed my parents' lives. Homer and Virginia were small-town kids from farming communities and when my Dad, Homer got called up for active duty after Pearl Harbor, the army could quickly see this guy was a natural leader--positive, can-do, tireless, and highly motivating. He was big and attractive, too, and something else: he was very kind, but no bullshit. My Mom Virginia was a perfect partner, because she also was all those things, only she was quite petite. And something else: she was fearless. They were an incredible team--it was like he was the Front Man, and she was the theatre Manager. He trained troops, she made sure he had no domestic concerns, looked and acted perfectly, and she helped rally the wives, who were essential supports to the success for any military man. She could turn on a dime--pack up a house and move in a matter of hours and set up another house and have it just like home in a matter of hours. He relied a lot on her, and as time went on and he progressed upward through the military ranks, she was a solid, reliable and loving foundation. She was a great educator and worked often as a teacher during his tours of duty but was willing to put her REAL career on hold for him and until me and my brother were in school. Most of all, both parents made everything an adventure. So, we moved a lot, (so what?) this was not sad! This was an opportunity for even more friends and a wider geographic experience! Both of my parents reached OUT from their lives to embrace the new communities and cultures they lived in--all over the USA, Germany, and for my dad, Korea and the Philippines.
My Mom joined my Dad in war-ravaged Germany in 1946, and I was born there in 1947. My Dad was now a Major, and extremely busy in the both sad and rewarding job of working to help the millions of refugees and DPs--Displaced Persons--locate families, relatives and find new homes when their own relatives and country were destroyed. My mother worked tirelessly with the local community, sharing her food and supplies with starving German neighbors, innocent people just caught in the crossfire of war. I remember her being very angry with some American wives who acted superior, imperialistic and selfish with their own privilege as the army of occupation, instead of reaching out with a helping hand and compassion.
We returned to the USA in late 1949, and lived in Arlington, VA. We were only there 2 years before my Dad volunteered for the Korean War and was gone for 11 months. My mom naturally had to stay home, but managed everything with no complaint, created great protected childhoods for my brother and me, but I know now how her heart was in her throat every day as the death toll of American troops mounted. It was a happy day when an armistice was declared, and Dad came home. When he did, he was promoted to Lt. Colonel.
We moved again!! --to Chicago, Fifth Army HQ--and my mother at last could begin her teaching career. She was THE most popular teacher and got stunning results because she had the ability to get the best out of kids--everything was a contest, she made learning fun.
We moved again!!--back to Washington, DC--both of my parents loved Washington, it was, after all, the Nation’s Capital and both of them, now more worldly-wise and sophisticated, loved the growing, booming metropolis and threw themselves into work--my Dad now in the Intelligence Division, working on projects we kids were not privileged to know about and too naïve to ask--and my mother's educational career took off. She got her 2nd master's degree and helped found guidance counseling in Fairfax county high schools and soon became the Director of Guidance at Fairfax high school and was several times named in the 100 Best Educators in the USA.
My Dad retired from the Army in 1962 as a full Colonel and my Mom continued with her career for another 20 years. Both of them changed many lives for the better, including mine, for sure!
They were married 59 years, my Mom died in 1999 and my Dad died in 2001.I am very happy my Dad died just when he did, shortly before 9/11. That incident would have really depressed him, but it would not have surprised him. For all his faith in America, he always knew that the price of freedom was constant vigilance. Both of them are buried in Arlington Cemetery.
Charity: Green Beret Foundation
The "Lead Runner" is the point of contact for the stage and carries the baton. There can only be 1 lead runner.
The "Support Runners" join the lead runner. There can be up to 10 support runners.
"Virtual Runners" can join this stage and run anywhere in the world. There's no limit to virtual runners.