PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Remembering the service men and women who have died in the War on Terror is the mission of John Mixon, the founder of the Run for the Fallen Maine.
PHOTOS: Run For The Fallen Maine 2013
The 6th annual race took place on the Eastern Promenade in Portland this year, gathering more people than ever before.
Part of the reason for the large turnout is that the race was dramatically shortened -- from 47 miles in 2012 down to 3.1 miles this year.
That large turnout means a lot to the families of the fallen.
Major Jay Aubin was one of the first casualties of the war. He was born in Waterville. A bell rang out in his honor, just as it did for 85 other men and women who died since the war began in October, 2001.
Three of Major Aubin's aunts came out for Sunday's run. They gathered at a memorial set up along the race course in memory of Major Aubin.
"You see all these people," says Raenelle Willette as a runner taps the memorial, "and you don't feel so all alone."
"They've given up their life for us," says Terri Willette of the men and women whose memorials line the course, "And for us to be able to be free... it just makes it all the more real."
Since the race was last run, the names of five Mainers have been added to the Run for the Fallen.
And while the race distance has been shortened, military families say the setting is nothing short of perfect to live beyond their loss.
"This is healing," says Raenelle, "Makes it a little easier every year."