There is no 6 a.m. ROTC workout this morning, but J. Brett Anderson (’14) is up anyway, preparing for a run: He puts on his shoes, grabs his iPod, and sits down with a list of 210 names.
He takes a pen and inscribes the initials of seven of those names on his left wrist. After running his first mile, he looks down at his forearm, reads the first set of initials, and says out loud, “Thank you.”
As an ROTC cadet and aspiring pilot, Anderson often visits the Wilkinson Center’s Memorial Hall—a room with a large plaque honoring the names of BYU’s fallen servicemen. “I kept thinking that I wanted to do something about those names,” he says.
In October 2013, the two-time marathon racer decided that running a mile for each name before he graduated in April could be his way to honor those who died serving their country. On his routes throughout Provo, the civil engineering student will take with him as many as 15 names at a time. He posts on his blog, 210 Miles: Running to Remember, the names of the soldiers for whom he runs, and, when he can find them, their pictures and stories. A favorite is Billy H. Huish (’37), who was a WWII B-17 navigator.
Shot down in 1944 in Germany, Huish parachuted from his bomber, survived the crash, and sought out the Belgian underground resistance movement. Turned in by Nazi collaborators, he and eight other American airmen were executed. “Just to know he didn’t give up—he kept on doing what he could to try to help other people, to try to promote freedom and liberty—is pretty inspiring,” Anderson says.
“[When you] remember the deeds that others have done for [their] fellow men, you grow,” says aerospace studies professor Major Mark A. Slik, one of Anderson’s ROTC instructors.
In a Jan. 1 post, Anderson writes that he hopes, down the line, a relative of one of these men may happen upon his blog and see that “somebody, somewhere appreciates his or her loved one.” If that happens, he shares, “it will have all been worth it.”
—Natalie Sandberg Taylor (’14) and Jessica Jarman Reschke (’14)