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Richmond Hill pays tribute to veterans
First Freeman Vets Day 5K a success
Veterans listen to the ceremony. - photo by Photo by Caitlyn Boza
It was sunny and breezy Veterans Day on Thursday, and Lisa Freeman said she could not have asked for a better day to hold the inaugural 5K run/walk in memory of her son.
“It’s been amazing,” she said. “God and Matthew are all over this.”  
Freeman is the founder of the Matthew Freeman Project: Pens and Paper for Peace, a not-for-profit organization that collects school supplies to be distributed in Afghanistan and other war-torn countries where children’s education is interrupted. Matthew Freeman was a captain in the Marine Corps when he was killed days after telling his mother that Afghan children wanted school supplies more than food or water.
The Matthew Freeman Veterans Day 5K run/walk was held at J.F. Gregory Park before the city of Richmond Hill’s annual Veterans Day observance, also held in the park. More than 100 people, service members, veterans and the Richmond Hill High School Wildcats baseball team showed up to listen to six speakers and watch the laying of the wreath at the Veterans Memorial.
The speakers expressed great appreciation and honored veterans from generations ago to those soldiers currently serving.
“We are a gracious nation and I thank you,” said Paul Spence, a representative from a local Vietnam Veterans group. “God bless you. God bless our soldiers, our veterans and the United States of America.”
Lt. Col. Eugenia Guilmartin, the commander of the 385th Military Police Battalion at Fort Stewart, said veterans and soldiers answer the call of duty even if it means putting themselves in harm’s way or leaving their loved ones for long periods of times. She also thanked veterans, and also paid homage to Richmond Hill, a city whose residents are committed to service members.  
“This community loves its service members,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Matthew Freeman Veterans Day 5K proved popular.
Lisa Freeman announced last month that the organization would host a 5K run/walk on Veterans Day in J.F. Gregory Park.
She said she hadn’t expected a great turnout, so she ordered 150 T-shirts to give the runners. Volunteers will now have to get more shirts printed for the 226 runners who registered and ran in the 5K. The fundraiser will greatly benefit the children and soldiers in Afghanistan, Freeman added.
Next year’s Matthew Freeman Veterans Day 5K run/walk will be held on Nov. 11, 2011. Freeman said she’s going to plan for more than 400 attendees.  
Freeman said she also received a donation and around 1,000 school supplies items from the Richmond Hill schools for the Matthew Freeman Project in honor of Veterans Day.   

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