It's fitting that as we celebrate Flag Day 2021 today (June 14), a special ceremony took place over the weekend to honor our state's fallen heroes. 12-year-old Zechariah Cartledge ran one mile carrying the blue line flag. Many friends and family members of Iowa's fallen First Responders were on hand and took part in the event. 

According to the Running4Heroes Facebook page, the non-profit organization was founded in 2019 by a then 10-year old (now 12). Cartledge seeks to raise funds for injured First Responders, while also paying tribute to our Fallen Heroes through running.

Zechariah ran in Independence this past Saturday (see video below)

The young man previously ran a mile in honor of fallen hero Iowa State Trooper Sergeant James K. Smith. Smith died in the line of duty. He was tragically shot and killed after a chase in Grundy County on Friday, April 9th, 2021. He also paid tribute (about 1 1/2 months ago) to Iowa State correctional officer Robert McFarland, and nurse Lorena Schulte who passed away in the Anamosa State Penitentiary attacks earlier this year.

After the run, Cartledge took time out to salute all fallen Iowa First Responders with 21 seconds of silence and a prayer. He then presented the flags to each of the families with a hand-written note.

An impressive young man

On a side note: I must say how impressed I am with Zechariah's out-going demeanor, attitude, and appearance.  I don't think I've ever seen a more confident young man. He seems very relaxed and comfortable speaking to crowds of people and in front of cameras. He's like a 25-year-old trapped inside a 12-year-old's body, and I mean that as a compliment. He has a bright future ahead of him.

Honor and Respect work with Zechariah to bring him to Iowa from his home state of Florida. Team member Ron Slagle stated In an Iowa New's Now article:

"We need that right now. we need to show support and love for each other and be there for each other. Right now first responders are facing a tough battle. 2020 was a tough year for all first responders and I think this is a great way to show them support." 


Donate to those in need, when they need it the most

Donations received go towards purchasing American flags, that Zechariah holds when he runs. He then presents that flag to the honored First Responder family. Donations also help provide financial relief to injured First Responders and their families. To donate click here.

In the past three years, Cartledge has run 928 overall miles in 19 different states. It would be nice to think someday Zechariah wouldn't have to run anymore. But until then. Keep running Zechariah, you're an inspiration to us all.

Here's the entire video of the Independence run and ceremony

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