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Editor’s Note: The following provides a first-hand account of the recent Bataan Memorial Death March as perceived by a local writer and scientist.As war continues in Iraq and the U.S. economy declines, most Americans can probably use a good dose of patriotism. For those who love a challenge, they need look no further than southern New Mexico, where the Bataan Memorial Death March takes place every year at the White Sands Missile Range.The Bataan Memorial Death March began in 1989 as a humble tribute to the soldiers who defended the islands of Luzon and Corregidor, and the harbor defense forts of the Philippines during World War II.On April 9, 1942, more than 75,000 American and Filipino soldiers were captured by the Japanese, including members of the New Mexico National Guard. The prisoners were marched 60 miles under brutal conditions to prison camps. At least 6,000 died en route and many more died after reaching the camps.The memorial march held March 30 was the largest ever, with 4,500 participants representing every state and several foreign nations.Although the largest division was military, civilians are also welcome to participate as either individuals or in five-person teams.What makes this marathon unusual is the “heavy” category in which marchers must carry a minimum of 35 pounds in a pack.
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