Finding a way to pay tribute to those who died during the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, has become an annual commitment for Capt. Chris Lancia, CASCOM’s deputy director of Public Affairs.
The logistics officer has organized or participated in tribute events in multiple states over the last decade. Last year, he organized the inaugural Virginia Old Glory Relay on behalf of veteran service organization Team Red, White, and Blue; and he led the team that carried an American flag 53 miles from Williamsburg to Richmond, where they presented it to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.
“I think about all the men and women who wear the uniform each day, and those who risk and have given up their lives since 9/11 to protect our freedom,” said Northam just before he was presented with the flag in 2019. “This means a lot to Virginia, and I know it means a lot to all of you. Thank you for keeping these individuals’ memories alive.”
Lancia has coordinated the running event again this year, expanding it to include a second team heading to the capital from Fredericksburg. Both will finish together at the Virginia War Memorial where they will present their flags to Northam and Carlos Hopkins, Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs.
The flags will arrive at 5 p.m., and community members are welcome to attend. The ceremony will take place at the outdoor amphitheater, allowing for COVID-19 social distancing precautions.
“We can never forget the events of Sept. 11. It’s an honor to be able to pay tribute to our fallen in such a way,” said Lancia, who set up a similar event in Savannah, Ga., in 2018, and twice coordinated teams for coast-to-coast relays in 2014 and 2015. “9/11 means so much to so many of our citizens, as we see by the number who join us for this or come out to see it occur. Being able to provide a medium for us all to remember and honor the sacrifice of so many Americans is powerful.”
Participants of the 2019 run included more than 50 representatives of CASCOM’s Army Logistics University, members of various veteran service organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project and the Travis Manion Foundation, and the Richmond Police Department. This year, Lancia anticipates more supporters joining the relay even as they take precautions against COVID-19.
Lancia said his personal motivation for organizing these events, which he does multiple times each year, is largely due to the long lineage of military and community service within his family
His grandfather was in the Navy during World War II. His father was a retired Army noncommissioned officer, and his uncle is a retired Navy chaplain and former Rhode Island state senator. His wife is an Army veteran. Their son is in the Air Force, and their daughter is a Team RWB volunteer leader in Florida.
“An event like this is about so much more than just moving a flag,” Lancia said. “This brings citizens together and allows us to support each other on an occasion that is difficult for many of our families who lost loved ones that day and since in service to our nation.
“We count ourselves fortunate to have the opportunity to help provide a way for the memories and pride of those who came before us to never be lost.”
Those who would like to join the Virginia Old Glory Relay as runners or spectators can find further information at www.teamrwb.org/event/9-11-moving-tribute-richmond.