MARIETTA, Ga. –
The Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation, the official support organization of the Georgia National Guard, hosted its 10th annual Assault on Kennesaw Mountain 5k run Oct. 23, 2021, in Kennesaw, Georgia. Georgia Guardsmen, their families and friends across the world ran in the event in honor of fallen comrades, notably 43 Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers that perished fighting in the Global War on Terrorism.
For the first time, the Assault on Kennesaw Mountain 5k ran both in-person and virtually. Last year’s event was entirely virtual.
“This race is ran in honor of our fallen 43 Soldiers that we have from the Georgia Army National Guard,” said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Meara Brown, organizer of the Assault on Kennesaw Mountain 5k run. “So we thank you for coming out and helping us remember them.”
Over 230 participants registered for this year’s Assault on Kennesaw Mountain. Virtual runners ran on their own in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. The virtual format even allowed runner overseas in Germany, Kuwait and the country of Georgia to participate in Assault on Kennesaw Mountain.
On the crisp morning of the in-person portion, runners and walkers of all ages met at Grace Community Church in Kennesaw, Georgia. There, the 2021 Assault on Kennesaw Mountain 5k began with an opening ceremony, starting with the national anthem and a benediction.
Next, participants heard opening remarks from Brown, Maj. Gen. Tom Carden, The Adjutant General of Georgia, and U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas Grabowski, commanding general of the Georgia Air National Guard.
“You are all special. You are what’s right about this country,” said Carden. “I can’t tell you enough how humbled and honored I am just to stand on the same piece of ground with every one of you today so that we can honor our fallen, to honor their families with every step we take up that mountain today.”
The opening ceremony solemnly concluded with a reading of the fallen 43 Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers that perished fighting in the Global War on Terrorism, then the playing of “taps” in their honor.
Participants took their places on the starting line after the opening ceremony. At 7:54 a.m., they began their five-kilometer trek up Kennesaw Mountain.
Kennesaw Mountain forms the majority of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield park, the preserved location of the American Civil War battle fought in June 1864. The park holds a special place to the Georgia National Guard where leaders and staffs conduct studies of the battle and terrain for their development, as well as scenic location to conduct physical training.
Water, snacks and awards awaited participants as their reward for trekking up the steep mountain path lined with 43 markers, all dedicated to Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers that died fighting in the Global War on Terrorism.
After all participants ran and walked across the finish line, a ceremony recognized the fastest runners and officially concluded the event.
“Today’s a big day for our organization when all of us pause and take a little bit of time to honor the 43 of our fallen comrades who gave their last full measure of devotion for freedom in this country,” said Carden. “The freedom to gather, the freedom to have our voices heard, all the freedoms that we enjoy in this country, every one of us know that it’s not free. It was bought and paid for by the blood of the men and women and their comrades from all the services throughout the history of this country.”
Proceeds from the race went to the Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation, a self-funded 501(c)3 organization. The Foundation’s primary mission is to provide financial relief assistance during times of unexpected emergencies and hardships to current member of the Georgia National Guard and full-time federal/state civilian employees of the Georgia Department of Defense living in the state of Georgia. Not only does the event promote healthy lifestyle habits of the Georgia National Guard, it also sustains an organization that assists service member resiliently bounce back from hardship.