Courage. Dedication. Integrity. They are three defining characteristics of those who serve our country.
NJ Run for the Fallen serves as a way to honor and remember our fallen veterans. Every year, active duty military personnel join together to honor the fallen by running about 190 miles starting from Cape May to Holmdel over the course of four days. On Sunday, Sept. 29, participants ran through Monmouth University’s campus to remember Christopher Cosgrove, a veteran alum who served in the Marine Corps.
Cosgrove was from Cedar Knolls, New Jersey and graduated from Monmouth in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in history, one year before getting deployed to Iraq. In 2006, he was dispatched by a car bomb explosion at the age of 23, days before coming home, according to the organization’s official website.
Each participant ran approximately one mile for each fallen service member from New Jersey, who has a designated “hero marker.” Four years ago, Cosgrove’s hero marker was moved to the 9/11 Memorial across from the Rebecca Stafford Student Center. Cosgrove’s hero marker carries four American flags to symbolize each year the runners went through Monmouth’s campus.
Dorothy Cleary, Director of Tutoring Services, said, “It’s a fitting place to put it, because a lot of these guys joined post-9/11.” Cleary is responsible for putting out the marker each year.
Cleary said that the annual event also serves as a way to bring Cosgrove’s family back to campus, which served as his home for four years of his life, and to maintain a connection with the University.
Cleary said, “I remember the first year we brought [his family] to campus. They were so grateful and they knew that Christopher would love the fact that his marker is now on campus and that he was back with Monmouth. I’ll never forget the look on their faces; it meant so much to them. It’s nice to have a hand at doing that for someone else.”
Charlene Cosgrove, Christopher’s mother and a NJ Run for the Fallen Gold Star Parent, said, “It’s an honor…It’s just wonderful that it’s being done through the campus and raising awareness for those who sacrificed their lives. And the fact that there’s a hero marker for every New Jersey fallen service member—it’s pretty special.”
Raul Pacheco, a senior computer science student, serves in the Marine Corps Reserves and participated in running the miles for each hero marker.
“Every year I try to come out here and do this run,” said Pacheco. “As a student veteran myself, I feel that it’s really important to always commemorate people I served with, especially here at Monmouth where we’re honoring someone who not only served with us but also went to the same school as us. We have that extra bond. It makes us that much closer.”
Not only do military personnel run for their fellow heroes, but also anyone who has a military connection. Cleary said that in the past four years, peer tutors have participated in running the miles because their siblings have served the military.
Cleary said, “There’s a lot of students who have family members in the military, and this is an interesting connection because [Cosgrove] is a Monmouth alum and a veteran.”
Cosgrove was very athletic, playing football, track, and lacrosse at Whippany Park High School and being apart of the Monmouth County Rugby Team.
Charlene Cosgrove said, “I could just see Chris saying, ‘I’m going to run the whole thing.’ I would imagine he’d be thrilled with it and participating.”
In the years to come, Monmouth will continue to honor her son’s legacy.
“He just really loved being at Monmouth,” she said. “I’m proud that he went there, proud that he graduated.”
Aside from having a hero marker on Monmouth’s campus, Cosgrove is honored at the University with a mural in the Veterans Lounge in the lower level of the Student Center. There is also a scholarship under his name.
NJ Run for the Fallen has become a Monmouth tradition, in which Hawks come together every year to honor and remember one of their own. It is an intimate and dignified event celebrated by military students, families of the fallen, and students with connections to the military.
Cleary said, “They’re a great group of people. I look forward to seeing some of the regulars each year, and they always recognize me.”
“As long as anyone’s here, that’s what makes a difference,” said Pacheco. “I grew up in Long Branch, so I’ll always come back here.”
Cleary said, “Whether I’m here or not, I hope it always continues.”
PHOTO COURTESY of NJ Run for the Fallen