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Old Glory Relay sprints to its conclusion

Police Officer shows respect during the Old Glory relay.
The Old Glory Relay comes to a close on Nov. 8 at sunset. Here, Tim Muessig, Premier Field Engineer on the Public Sector Department of Defense Marine Corps Team, runs Old Glory through Bellefontaine Neighbors, Missouri, while the local police department salutes.

What happens when you run through communities across the nation, covering 3,540 miles total, carrying the American flag? You learn just how proud our neighbors are of the U.S. armed forces. For the past two months, runners — former and current service members, members of Team Red, White and Blue (Team RWB), Microsoft employees and many others — have been doing just that. The second annual Old Glory Relay, conducted by Team RWB and presented by Microsoft, began at sunrise on Sept. 11 in San Francisco and will come to an end at sunset on Nov. 8 in Washington, D.C.

But the distance covered (3,540 miles) and the time spent (60 days) are not what stand out from this event. What has made the run worthwhile for those participating has been the reaction from the communities they run through — and the stories they heard along the way. Whether it was “glory honks” from cars driving by or police officers saluting as Old Glory went past, relay participants felt encouragement and support from people every step of the way.

The theme for this year’s relay was “Faces of Old Glory.” Runners and supporters were asked to share stories, videos and photos of empathy, action and impact for those who served throughout the event on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook using #OldGloryRelay. Those stories spurred the runners on, reminding them why they were out there. Former service members who currently work at Microsoft took part in several legs of the relay and posted about their experiences on a Microsoft Military Affairs live blog.

“I felt like I was smiling ear-to-ear, looking around in awe at everything, and at times overwhelmed with emotion as I saw this thing we call the Old Glory Relay come to life in front of my eyes,” wrote Sean Kelley, program director for Military Affairs at Microsoft. “I was at the center, the flag occasionally hitting me in the face or draping over my shoulder as Chris Cortez, vice president of Military Affairs at Microsoft, proudly waved it to honking cars and the claps of random passersby. ‘SEMPER FI!’ I could hear shouted from the doorway of an office building. One young man stood at attention as we passed. Another older man, with a black beret on, saluted us proudly.”

The Old Glory Relay will complete its journey on Nov. 8 in Washington, D.C. Old Glory will be taken on a patriotic tour of the National Mall and various national monuments before ending its 3,540-mile journey in front of the White House. The flag will then be taken on an Eagle Walk to the Microsoft Center for Innovation and Policy, arriving at sunset. Upon arrival, Team RWB and Microsoft will host a retreat celebration, where Old Glory will be retired, and the Faces of Old Glory will be celebrated.