The fifth annual Veterans Memorial 5K and Military Appreciation Celebration took place on May 25th, and by all accounts the event was a massive success.

More than $112,000 was raised for three partnering veteran’s charities – Shepherd’s Men, dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the SHARE Military Initiative at Shepherd Center in Atlanta; the Georgia National Guard Foundation, which helps both active and retired veterans; and the Service Office of the American Legion Post 29, which aids vets unable to get the service they need at any other location.

Over 450 runners participated in the 5K, beginning in historic Marietta Square, and they were joined by some very special guests.

Some 90 members of the Georgia National Guard stationed in Afghanistan ran alongside friends and family in Marietta, linked up on televisions with technology provided by the Army National Guard.  After the race family members were able to talk to their loved ones via the big screens, creating a truly special moment.

Following the race was the Military Appreciation Celebration, featuring speakers including Maj. Gen. Tom Carden, head of the National Guard for the State of Georgia, and Cobb Commission Chair & retired Marine Mike Boyce, both of whom spoke on the importance of Memorial Day and what military service means to them.

The ceremony was followed by a performance by the Georgia Symphony Orchestra, who played a variety of patriotic songs fitting for a Memorial Day celebration.

Tom Bell, Commander of the Sons of the American Legion and Chairman of the Veterans Memorial 5K and Military Appreciation Celebration, called the day a wild success.

“We are absolutely ecstatic at the way the event went, this was our biggest and best year ever,” he told IAG.

“The major emphasis for us at the American Legion is that the money that we raise from this event goes to support our veterans locally in the Metro Atlanta area, and we subscribe to the notion that no veteran is left behind.”

He also wanted to give a special thanks to the Army National Guard, who helped organize the simulcast with Georgia National Guard members stationed in Afghanistan.  “It was truly a tremendous event to be able to watch and listen on the live feed,” he said.

So if you want to not only celebrate our veterans, but actually do something to help them – mark your calendars for next Memorial Day weekend, where the 6th edition of the Veterans Memorial 5K and Military Appreciation Celebration will look to build off the success of the 2019 version.



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