ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — A group in Baldwin County once again honored fallen service members conducting a flag relay from Loxley to Orange Beach on Memorial Day.
This is the 13th year the relay has been conducted in Baldwin County “in honor of those that gave the most to our country and its citizens.”
This year’s Baldwin County route was held in two groups running simultaneously. Route 1 began at the Loxley Veterans Memorial in Loxley Municipal Park and ended in Foley. Route 2 began in Foley and ended in Orange Beach.
Signs are posted along the route honoring military members who have died in service to their country. Signs are provided by the group or family members can purchase a sign that includes a fallen service member’s name and photo.
“This is a way for people who may not have a personal connection to losing a loved one to be able to empathize or relate to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to our country,” said Tyler York of Loxley, who organizes the relay in Baldwin County. “By seeing those faces and the names of those service members it is a way for us to ‘Remember to Remember.’”
The original relay in Mobile was organized by Endel Lee, a chaplain who observed a 24-hour remembrance in Iraq to honor those who died and decided he wanted to bring that remembrance back home.
“The relay used to run from Mississippi to Florida with a leg running through Baldwin County,” York said. “Each leg of the relay had to have a local organizer and there was one that ran through Baldwin County.”
York said he was serving in Afghanistan when he heard about the relay from his mother. When he returned home he got involved in the relay and the next year he took over as the organizer for the Baldwin County leg.
Separate events are now conducted in Mobile and Baldwin County. There was also a relay conducted this year in Pensacola. This is the fifth year York has served as organizer for the Baldwin County event.
Each group along the 37-mile route carried the American Flag and the Armed Services flag a mile and a half to 3 miles before handing off the flags to the next group, for a combined total of about 40 runners.
Police cars, including Alabama state troopers, Baldwin County Sheriff’s deputies and law enforcement officers from each of the municipalities along the route, escorted the group to ensure safe passage.
A group page “Memorial Day Flag Relay Baldwin County” was set up on Facebook to follow runners along the route.