By Patti Dobson
Religion columnist 

Faith: Here's hoping I do those who've served proud


Last updated 2/2/2021 at 4:11pm

I’ve been thinking a lot about honor lately.

For the past little bit, I’ve been training for a marathon — 26.2 miles. (It’s OK to laugh; I do when I think about what I’m doing.) I don’t run. I tell people that if they see me running, they need to run faster.

Richard Allen Trask was a Bataan Death March survivor. He and his family often participated in the yearly memorial marathon held at White Sands Missile Range. After hearing the story, I told him I was going to join his family and walk (not run) in his honor. It made him laugh when I said that I’d break ranks and come hug him when I saw him on the sideline. He laughed harder when I said if I couldn’t finish the 26.2 miles, he could give me a ride to the finish line in his wheelchair. I wasn’t kidding about that.

I never got the chance to do that; Richard Trask died in February 2019 at the age of 99. The Bataan Memorial Death March was canceled last year because of COVID-19. This year, it’s a virtual event. No more excuses.

I don’t listen to music or books when I walk; I spend a lot of time with my thoughts. Like so many, I’d heard about the Bataan Death March and had studied it in history classes. It’s one thing to read about it; it is quite another to talk to someone who survived it.

I’ve mapped out the miles in increments so that I can comfortably get to 15 miles a day. We’ve driven the route I’ll use to train, and then complete, the marathon. It’ll be me and herds of cows on the back farm roads. I even have a “day of marathon” plan, thanks to my husband Wayne. He figured out that if I walked 15 miles the evening prior, I could rest overnight, and then complete the remaining miles the next morning within 24 hours.

The irony here is that I’m training for a 26.2-mile marathon to honor a man who, along with his compatriots, walked an excruciating 65 miles with little to no food. They were tortured and, as best they could, tried to help one another because that is the kind of men they were … men of honor.

He survived the march, and then survived more than three years in a prison camp. I’ve heard some of the stories of what he experienced during those years. Even hearing the stories more than once, it was (and is) difficult to process. He said his faith saved him.

As I continue my journey walking with my thoughts, I marvel at his tenacity. He survived and built an incredible life. He lived his life with honor; he treated people around him with honor; he spoke with honor. It was more than a word to him; it was the fabric of his life.

I think about him, and all the men and women who have served and are serving. I think about their families. I think about all of those who serve their communities in one capacity or another; I salute their dedication, sense of duty, their service in being the hands and feet of God regardless of potential harm to themselves.

Thinking of them, carrying them with me on this journey … I recognize that I’m walking in some pretty hefty footprints. I hope I do them proud.

Patti Dobson writes about faith for The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact her at:

[email protected]


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