WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE – The 32nd Bataan Memorial Death March will be held as a virtual experience April 9 through April 18, 2021.
This is first time the memorial march will not be held in-person. Organizers say it’s being held virtually to ensure the safety of participants and volunteers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 march, which was expected to draw more than 10,000 participants, was canceled days before it was scheduled to take place after New Mexico’s governor declared a public health emergency over the arrival of the virus.
The memorial march is held annually in honor of the 75,000 American and Filipino soldiers who became prisoners of war under Japanese forces in April 1942, during World War II. The soldiers were protecting the Philippines before they surrendered. They were deprived of food, water, medical attention and were forced to march approximately 65 miles in the Philippines to confinement camps. About 10,000 U.S. and Filipino soldiers died during this time.
Memorial marchers from not only New Mexico but around the world participate in the annual march on WSMR land. The full marathon length is 26.2 miles while the honorary distance is 14.2 miles. Some people complete the distance while in uniform or carrying heavy loads — if deemed safe for them — and they are encouraged to continue to do so this year as well.
Participants will be required to register and choose which distance they will complete. They will then have between April 9 and April 18 to complete their mileage wherever they are located, but they must complete it within one day. A statement on the event’s website said the event organizers will not be tracking completion times this year.
“Focus on the memorial aspect of the march,” said Col. Ryan Howell, WSMR Garrison Commander, in a Dec. 21 video posted on social media. “It’s to honor the sacrifices of the heroic Americans and Filipinos of Bataan.”
The site states that the registration fee will go toward a participation medal, T-shirt, bib and commemorative dog tag for participants. Pricing will be announced at a later date at https://bataanmarch.com/.
By: Leah Romero for Las Cruces Sun News