EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally aired on October 18, 2020 and is being re-published in honor of Memorial Day.
BEDFORD, Va. (WFXR) — When the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. went virtual for 2020, Charlotte Powers had an idea for how to complete the 26.2 miles while honoring a fallen hero from World War II.
She decided to team up with her running buddy — and dad — Larry Powers, to run around Bedford, with the course ending at the National D-Day Memorial underneath the Overlord Arch.
What Charlotte didn’t know was that her grandmother, Larry’s mother, would be waiting at the finish line.
“That was one of the reasons I started tearing up a little bit and I am the baby of the family,” Charlotte Powers said. “For her to be able to see me, as well as her son finish was just icing on the cake.”
Marathons are a bit of a tradition for the father-daughter pair. Their virtual marathon. marked Charlotte’s 10th marathon. The annual Marine Corps event in the nation’s capital was supposed to take place in late October of 2020.
“It’s different. It’s not the same feeling when you’re out, when you start with 22,000 runners for the Marine Corps,” Larry Powers said. “But at the same time when it went to virtual, we said ‘okay it’s still a race.’ It’s still the same purpose.”
And it only made sense for the 26.2-mile journey to end at a solemn memorial that honors those that paid the ultimate sacrifice. It’s where Charlotte can find the name of her great uncle, Jack Powers, who was one of the “Bedford Boys” who died on June 6, 1944.
Charlotte races with Jack’s picture pinned to her back.
“When I start doubting myself and I think this is hard, I reach around and pat him and know that he’s with me and that what I’m doing is a very small price to pay to ensure that he didn’t die in vain and that the greatest generation isn’t forgotten about,” Charlotte Powers said.
Larry never got to know his uncle Jack. But he does know that he’s one of many stories of courage and sacrifice that is told at the National D-Day Memorial every day to the 60,000 visitors that make the trip annually.
“Bedford took a heavy toll,” Larry Powers said. “A lot of young people.”
Jack’s memory is one of the many things that bonds Charlotte and her dad.
“That’s the biggest thing that running has given me. It’s my time with my dad and we get to talk about stuff that we may have otherwise not talked about because we’re not looking at each other,” Charlotte Powers said.
“Honestly this finish I think means more to me than finishing in DC.”