This group of veterans, former law enforcement officers and entrepreneurs just ran 394 miles to remember every single officer lost in SC since 1798.
It’s hard to really start on the day of the run without going back to the beginning. I retired from law enforcement in Jan 2018. Even when you leave the job however, you never really leave the profession. When you hear about an officer who has been killed or injured it wounds your heart and leaves a scar on your soul.
During the summer of 2018 a friend of mine bought some property. There was larger lot and a smaller one only about a quarter to one third of an acre. While you couldn’t place much on this lot in way of a business it was perfect for a memorial of some kind. This is where we first conceived the idea of a police memorial. It was originally slated to be donated to the local FOP. Tragedy struck, however, and seven officers were shot during a single incident on October 3, 2018 in Florence, South Carolina. Sgt. Terrence Carraway and Deputy Farrah Turner were killed. Shortly after, the concept of a memorial park was born.
Curtis Boyd, the property owner, and I are avid runners. We began a new venture of trying to bring attention to the 384 officers and 10 K-9 officers who have given their lives for their fellow South Carolinian’s since 1798. We would run one mile for each one of the lost. During this road trip we would travel through as many communities as possible while reaching out to as many agencies as we were able.
Each of the members of the team Curtis Boyd (Businessman, Entrepreneur, team sponsor and planner), Daniel Watson (Retired Police Chief and Marine Veteran), Daniel Johnson (Mechanic and Air Force Veteran), Phillip Tyler Cox (Army Recruiter and Staff Sergeant) and Andy Parker (Triathlete, Businessman and Entrepreneur) set out to run a half-marathon a day for six days, covering 394 miles. At the end of each day a role call of our honored dead was given for all to hear, letting their loved ones know that although they have passed from this life into the next, they are not forgotten.
The funny thing about this trip was despite the thousands of people we encountered we only ran across one person who was unpleasant. Overwhelmingly we were met with pride, awe and respect for this mission of honor for those who paid the ultimate price. People waved, spoke, saluted and there was no hate – only love. It made me realize that despite the fact there are those who would have you believe peace officers are reviled here in South Carolina, they continue to be revered and their sacrifice is not forgotten.
On the final day, the thin blue line flags that had made the 394 mile journey were gently folded and placed in the hands of their loved ones. We were not met with tears of sadness, but instead tears of joy. Joy because they know their loved ones have not been forgotten. These tattered banners covered in the sweat of the runners and the dust of many a South Carolina road represented more than the most precious linen. They represented a commitment, a journey of honor for not only those who have been torn from us but for the many that were left behind.
Five ordinary men with an extraordinary idea to ensure those who have been lost will never be forgotten. It was an honor to be a part of this journey. Five men. 394 miles. 6 days of running. And a fierce love for those who serve us all.
God Bless and keep the peacekeepers. Thanks so much to the many Law Enforcement Agencies who supported us, ran with us, guided us and prayed to the almighty God for our safety.
Daniel L. Watson MPA FBI NA # 228 Retired Peace Keeper