Flags for the fallen

Soldier runs Tallulah Half Marathon in memory of fallen high school student

By RON HARRIS, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 6/12/18

Michael Jones didn’t know Alaina Petty, a 14-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

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Flags for the fallen

Soldier runs Tallulah Half Marathon in memory of fallen high school student

Posted

Michael Jones didn’t know Alaina Petty, a 14-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

That didn’t keep the U.S. soldier from honoring the teen, who was one of 17 students and faculty members killed on Feb. 14 in a mass shooting at the school.

Jones, one of the almost 300 people to compete in Saturday’s Tallulah Half Marathon and 5K race in downtown Jasper, carried an American flag the length of the 13.1-mile race in memory of Petty, who was part of the JROTC program at her high school.

“I am just a runner, running with the flag to honor the memory and life of a very special young lady,” Jones said. “It’s a privilege for me to do this for such a beautiful soul. Every mile, I reflected on the life of a 14-year-old angel who I never knew, who changed my life.”

Following Saturday’s half marathon, Jones and local race officials participated in a ceremony to fold the flag he carried throughout the race. He plans on presenting it to Petty’s family.

“May we all be reminded by Alaina that we should be patient, loving and caring,” Jones added, “and care for those around us. We are never guaranteed tomorrow. Make the best of the gift of today.”