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December 2015 Hero of the Month: Mike Ehredt and His Beautiful Tribute to the Fallen

In 2010, Army veteran Mike Ehredt ran alone across the United States as part of his personal effort to pay homage and offer thanks to the fallen U.S. service members of the Iraq war.

Ehredt called his tribute “One Life, One Flag, One Mile,” with all the miles together constituting “Project America Run.” Rejecting any political or commercial association, Ehredt ran almost 30 miles each day, for a total of 4,424 miles stretching from Astoria, Oregon to Rockland, Maine. He ultimately passed through sixteen states.

As he ran, Ehredt pushed a stroller filled with American flags. Volunteers had tied each flag with a yellow ribbon bearing the name, rank, age and hometown of a soldier who had died in the Iraq war – one flag for each of the 4,442 fallen soldiers.   After each mile, Ehredt stopped and planted one flag in honor of one fallen soldier. Each time, he then stood in silence, saluting the flag, before resuming his run.

Along his route, Ehredt stopped at numerous schools to share with students his inspiring, long-lasting message of remembering those who served our country. Every night, he stayed with a different host family — Americans he had never met before, who opened their hearts and homes to his mission.

In 2012, Ehredt set out again. He ran for nearly three months, starting just north of International Falls, Minnesota, and ending at the Gulf of Mexico outside of Galveston, Texas. This undertaking, dubbed “Project America Run II,” placed 2,140 flags, each honoring one of the U.S. soldiers who had died in Afghanistan. Because that war is ongoing, Ehredt placed the flags in chronological order, beginning with the first American casualty and working forward. Project America Run III is now being planned to honor and remember those lost in Iraq after 10/15/10 and those who gave their lives in Afghanistan after 11/11/12.

As Ehredt explained, “”I do this as a personal tribute and gift of thanks to those who have served our country. Project America Run has no political agenda, no statement to be made; I simply want to create an invisible wall of honor and grace as my humble show of gratitude.”

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