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Marines lead ground zero memorial run

By Lance Cpl Jad Sleiman | | June 1, 2010

Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen joined New York police and fire fighters for a run to the World Trade Center site in honor of those that died during the Sept. 11 attacks and throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 400 cadence-calling runners traversed a mile and a half of Manhattan's financial district amid cheering New Yorkers before holding a brief ceremony at ground zero, capping off Fleet Week New York 2010.

"Ground zero is more than just a place," Col. John Parker, a foreign relations liaison, told the sweat soaked crowd. "It represents the strength and will of a nation."

Col. Eric Smith, commanding officer of 8th Marine Regiment, asked the Marines and Sailors to raise their hands if they enlisted after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"We know that most of you enlisted after or because of this right here, ground zero," he said.

Lance Cpl. Nickolas Steyer, a team leader with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force New York,  was one such Marine.

"(The run) was pretty surreal, there were a lot of people clapping and cheering us on," he said. "It was very humbling."