July 1, 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel. USR VI remembers the 100th anniversary of a defining moment in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history: the battle at Beaumont-Hamel. On that day, nearly 800 men from Newfoundland and Labrador were killed and injured, devastating a small country and plunging whole communities into mourning.
That terrible event, along with the many other sacrifices during the First World War, helped shape the destiny of Newfoundland and Labrador. It continues to influence this province today. To make the 100 Anniversary of Beaumont-Hamel memorable, race co-directors, Tony Poole and Stew Hughes planned to remember every fallen NL solider of that battle. This included printing the names of the 750 fallen soldiers on every race bib and providing each runner with archive documents for each solider lost. Many ran for family members, others ran for soldiers from their small town and all ran in their memories to symbolically bring each fallen solider home across the finish line. The race started at the Beaumont-Hamel monument and finished at the Fighting NL Solider monument. In addition to the race bibs, a 100th anniversary finisher medal was designed and presented to each runner.
So on a special Sunday morning on June 12th 2016, runners gathered at Bowring Park in St. John’s, NL to support the 6th Annual United Services Run. The USR was inspired by the Army Run, which has been conducted in Ottawa since 2008 to raise money and awareness for military families and service personnel wounded during overseas deployments. The main goals of the USR are to raise money and awareness for the local uniformed services and their families, and to promote physical fitness and healthy living in the community. It has representation from local units and detachments of the Canadian Forces, RCMP, RNC, NL Corrections Officers, Fire Fighters, Paramedics, Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, NL Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Officers. The event included a 1/2 marathon road race, 10 k road race, 3 k family walk/run, and 1 k kids run. Number of registrants for the race was sold out at 750 with several hundred others watching the event.
Since the inaugural USR in 2011, this event has raised just over $24,000 for charity. In 2016 the USR will donated approximately $7,000 to charity totaling $31,000 to date. The first donation was to the Caribou Veterans Pavilion to help finish the erection of their Caribou statue in their remembrance garden. The remaining $2000 was donated to 37 Sig Regt to send a deserving NL signaler on the Commemorative Battlefield Study Tour in 2017.
Canada has a rich military legacy that extends over many generations. It is our responsibility to uphold the respect and tradition of remembrance for our military legacy, and for those who have served both in the past, and will continue to serve in the future. Likewise, Canadians share the same admiration to all those whom serve in uniform.