Old Glory Relay spans coast to coast to salute, support and connect with veterans

Jul 28, 2016

While running a leg of the 2015 Old Glory Relay, Chris Cortez experienced a remarkable moment. Carrying the U.S. flag through the streets of San Francisco — with so many spectators saluting — was “awesome,” he says. “It was absolutely powerful.”

Microsoft and Cortez, the company’s vice president of Military Affairs, will both be back for this year’s Old Glory Relay, which starts Sept. 11, with Microsoft again serving as the event’s title sponsor.

In this year’s event, 62 teams will carry a single American flag more than 4,000 miles across the country, from Washington state to Florida. The relay is a project of Team Red, White and Blue, a nonprofit that aims to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. (Indeed, the theme of this year’s relay is “Connections.”)

Blayne Smith, executive director of Team Red, White and Blue, praises Microsoft’s commitment to supporting veterans. “They were an amazing sponsor last year,” he says. “They’ve been ‘all in’ for Team Red, White and Blue.” The company’s involvement helps “get folks out in their communities to connect hand to hand, face to face.”

Speaking on the Eagle Nation Podcast, Cortez explains why supporting the Old Glory Relay matters to Microsoft: “Supporting our veterans is exactly what we need to be doing. We’ve picked a handful of veterans services organizations to work with. Team Red, White and Blue is spot on in what it does for vets. Microsoft and our employees are very proud be part of this.”

To Smith, the magical moments like the one Cortez described represent the power of the experience: “The beauty is really in the simplicity. We’re moving a single flag on foot over a long distance. It takes a team.”

The route for Old Glory Relay 2016, which Smith calls “ambitious,” will connect communities across America. Starting on Sept. 11 with a reveille ceremony at Microsoft’s corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington, participants will carry Old Glory south along the West Coast to San Diego before heading east through the desert Southwest, across Texas, and along the Gulf Coast to the Tampa, Florida, home of Team Red, White and Blue, for a retreat ceremony.

The public is invited to join Microsoft and Team Red, White and Blue on the Old Glory Relay route, attend events along the way, and participate by walking or running alongside the flag bearers.

For details, listen to an interview with Cortez on the Eagle Nation Podcast.