By Julianne Cuba
This Memorial Day weekend, for the eighth year in a row, the streets of East Northport will be filled with joggers and walkers honoring the lives of fallen soldiers.
On May 23, the Cpl. Christopher G. Scherer memorial “I Did the Grid” four-mile competitive run, one-mile fun run and four-mile recreational run/walk honors the life of Chris Scherer and all men and women who gave their lives to serve the U.S. The run will begin at Pulaski Road Elementary in East Northport.
Scherer, who was a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, was born and raised in East Northport. He lost his life while serving in the province of Al Anbar in Iraq on July 21, 2007.
In his memory, the Scherer family started the Cpl. Christopher G. Scherer Semper Fi Fund, and on Memorial Day in 2008, held the first annual run to honor their son and all fallen warriors.
“Put your personal achievements away for the day and come to honor them [fallen soldiers] because it is Memorial Day weekend and that’s what we should be doing … take a little time to think about the men and women who have died serving our country and the families they left behind,” Scherer’s father Tim Scherer said.
Scherer said that his son was a great kid who loved life and wanted to help his fellow Marines. In their final phone call before his death, Scherer said his son asked him to send lighter boot socks that wouldn’t make him sweat as much. Just before he hung up, his son asked if he would be able to send socks for other Marines, too, because many didn’t have families.
The father said he sent out an email asking for contributions.
“It was just an email, I never thought I’d get anything, but in four days I had $2,500 to buy supplies for the troops, so we sent over 100 packages but he never got one of them … it was just heartbreaking.”
It was through his son’s own desire to help his fellow Marines that the Scherer family got the idea for the fund and run, he said.
Scherer said his son’s greatest quality was his loyalty for everything he loved — his family, his friends, his lacrosse team and the U.S. Marines.
“This is not just about Chris,” his father said. “The race is named after him but we run for over 6,800 fallen warriors … no service person is left behind. Everyone who has given their life is represented on Memorial Day, because that’s what Memorial Day is.”
Scherer said that instead of giving out awards, the run asks participants to look up the names of the four fallen soldiers on their bibs, from either Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom. The bibs are given out before the run. Upon completion, each participant will ring a bell to signify that no fallen warrior would be forgotten, he said.
Meghan Scherer, the late Cpl. Scherer’s sister, also said that each year, they alternate giving out either a coin or pint glass, which were two of her brother’s favorite things.
“Challenge coins in the military are usually given when someone does something extraordinary, so we feel that they should receive a coin, because they’re doing something amazing by remembering these men and women,” she said.
His sister said she and her other siblings — an older brother, Tim, and twin sister, Kaitlin — were all always so close.
“Nobody ever picked on my sister or me because they knew Chris would always have our backs,” she said. “Chris would pick on us but it was never anybody else. We were always protected from the start and that’s what he did, he protected us as a Marine.”
Matt Baudier, 34, from Northport, was an Eagle Scout with Scherer and was his mentor for a few years, he said.
“As his mentor, he always looked up to me, but the day that he deployed, he became my hero,” he said.
Baudier said the run is a good way to honor Scherer and all fallen soldiers.
“One of our taglines is, ‘We run for those who stood for us,’” he said.