VENTURA, Calif. - The coronavirus pandemic didn't just lead to the cancellation of this year's Veterans Day Ceremony at Ivy Lawn Memorial Park in Ventura it also led to the first-ever cancellation of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.
But that didn't stop Lisa Lenn Waters Anderson from running it anyway.
"We did 26, almost 27 miles around our nation's capital, which is on the mall, and hit all those different monuments and I also carried the flag," the Gold Star mom from Ventura said.
It was her 14th Marine Marathon and the race she runs to keep the memory of the step-son she raised alive.
Lance Cpl. Nicholas Anderson, 19, was the first soldier from Ventura County to be killed in the Iraq War. Anderson died the day after Veterans Day on Nov. 12, 2004 when his Humvee was run off the road during a nighttime combat patrol.
He was buried with full military honors at Ivy Lawn.
His younger brother Jackson is now an artillery officer in the Marines.
That makes Lisa Anderson a Blue Star mom, too. She takes both titles seriously.
"As a Gold Star mom I feel it's my job to make sure people don't forget our fallen."
That's one of the reasons she inspires others to run.
"We are having this big issue right now with suicide within veterans and what I am doing right now, I am a co-chairperson and founder of an initiative with Veterans and Gold Star families. We bring them together and we race endurance sports in communities where Ironman races."
She said running helped her get out of her head when her son Jackson and daughter Nina were missing their older brother.
"They can heal through sports."
She still describes Nicholas in the present tense as an all American guy. She remembers kids gravitating towards him.
"He joined the military when he was 18 and he strongly felt that service over self was important and died doing just that."
He loved his family.
"He was honest and truthful and loved his momma, which is great."
She encourages people to speak to Gold Star families whenever they get the chance.
The thing she loves most is when someone says Nicholas' name.
She said that is what keeps his memory and service alive.