POWHATAN, Va. -- On the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a Powhatan man planned to run 72 miles. One mile for each law enforcement officer who gave their life that day.
Russell Holland Jr. started the ‘Never Forget Run' last year, running 343 laps around the Powhatan High School track in memory of the 343 firefighters who died running into the burning buildings that day.
Holland said this year, he planned to run 72 miles in four mile loops around the Powhatan Village. With everything going on, he believed it was important to remember the law enforcement officers on this day.
“We kind of reflected on whether doing this this year would be more hurtful than helpful. Because we're in kind of a tough environment right now where people are very kind of polarized, and it's a bit toxic,” said Holland. “And we decided that actually, that would be the best reason for doing it. Because the reason why we started this last year was to have conversations.”
Holland said he wanted people to remember what it was like when the country came together following the attacks.
“When we say never forget. We're not really talking about never forget the horrors of 9/11. What we're talking about is never forget how good we can be when we come together,” said Holland. “We don't need a tragic event to get back to that.”
Holland was joined by other runners, like navy veteran, Sid Busch, who traveled from his home near Charleston, South Carolina, to the Powhatan Rescue Squad.
Busch joined Holland for a portion of the run, on the anniversary of a day he said he’d never forget.
“We’d take the Subway down to lower Manhattan and watch the towers going up,” said Busch. “So watching this… I usually don’t watch TV or anything during this because I’ll take those memories to my grave.”
But for Busch, the ‘Never Forget Run’ was even more personal. His cousin worked in the north tower on the 72nd floor.
“I didn’t know until a couple days later we found out that, my Aunt notified me that he was lost. And they never found any remains,” said Busch. “We had run six marathons together, and in 02 I ran six in his memory.”
From there, Busch joined a group called ‘Running in Honor of Fallen Heroes.’ He completed more than 200 marathons in memory of men and women who’ve given their lives in defense of the country — not unlike Friday’s ‘Never Forget Run.’
But for Busch, there’s something else about that time that sticks with him.
“I remember a billboard that came out shortly after 911 carrying a person out of the towers covered in the dust and everything. And it said, ‘when people ran out, he ran in,’” said Busch. “And that’s pretty — you know — I cant imagine what was going through their minds running in there, because I don’t think anyone expected them to collapse like that.”
In an interview Thursday, Holland said the ‘Never Forget Run’ had raised more than $1,000 for local first responders.
He invited the community to come out to the Powhatan Courthouse at the end of the 72 mile run — where he planned to do a final walk for fall Powhatan officer, Deputy Robbie Green.