The annual Run for the Fallen in Charleston and yearly Coles County Relay for Life in Mattoon were held last weekend.

One could say these events have become ordinary for numerous years now. We can take them for granted. We know that organizers and participants will be there to make them happen.

Thank goodness these activities have become almost mundane.

We say that because they are so important to our communities that they ought to be assumed each year ... taken for granted ... ordinary.

Repetitive tasks or events can become mundane, typical, even done without much active thought.

And yet, of course, Run for the Fallen and Relay for Life are nothing less than extraordinary.

Each year, organizers and participants come together at the Charleston High School track to walk or run a mile for every military service member from Illinois killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts of the last decades. By the end of the event, numerous small American flags stand in the end zone as a tribute and reminder that we will never, ever forget the sacrifices made by members of our military -- particularly those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Also every year in late summer, hundreds of people gather at Mattoon's Peterson Park for Relay for Life, a benefit for the American Cancer Society. The fight for a cure for cancer brings together cancer survivors, those actively battling the disease and allies in a great effort to raise awareness and funds to end the scourge of this horrible malady.

And so we should never take these efforts for granted. Yet, the fact that we could take them for granted is comforting, if you think about it.

We have hundreds of area residents so dedicated to these causes that we're assured these events will go on for years to come -- you get the feeling that they'll continue forever, so determined are their supporters.

We cannot put enough value on support for our troops, just as we cannot assign a number to quantify the sacrifices of our military members and their families. No one can possibly quantify the importance of fighting cancer -- and although there is not yet a cure, advances are being made. Cancer patients are living longer, and with better quality of life.

The mundane, the ordinary, are things for which we should give thanks. Most of us, most of the time, take for granted each beat of our hearts, yet we most certainly take notice if that ordinary, typically automatic function is interrupted.

Thank goodness for the people who mark these events on their calendar every year and make them happen. We appreciate their dedication and their simple yet profound actions. Hats off to the ordinary and the opportunity we have to take these great events for granted.

But we never will.

-- JG-TC Editorial Board


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