Sunday, September 29, 2019

Honoring our fallen

I have run, maybe, a dozen 5 and 10k races (two mini-marathons and one marathon) in my life, and I can honestly say today’s 5k had me all choked up on numerous occasions. The Tunnel 2 Tower 5k is run in memory of the firemen and first responders who died in the line of duty on September 11, 2001.

Hundreds, if not thousands of the runners/walkers represented the five branches of the Armed Services and veterans, police, firefighters and first responders. Thousands more were corporate, special interest organizations, and non profits such as the Sheep Dog Impact Assistance, the group for whom I represented today. And still thousands more, all were there to honor fallen heroes.

At the start of the race we stood near one of the Fire Engines Firehouse) that sent their teams to the World Trade Center that morning.

Near the end of the race, for at least a mile, on both sides of the street stood firemen and firemen in full dress uniforms holding banners with a photo and name of a fallen policeman or firefighter. I shook the hands of what seemed like nearly all of them as we passed them by.

A number of times we stopped to let some of our older members catch up with us. At one of those points I noticed a woman holding an obviously handmade placard with the photo of a fireman lost on 9/11. I asked her if he was a family member. She said he was her son.

There was no way I was moving forward without giving her a hug and a “I’m sorry for your loss.” (I am all teary-eyed recounting this poignant moment)

As we neared the finish, there were thousands of JROTC members, junior and high school kids, and countless other people from all walks of life present to cheer us on.

This is a race I wanted to run, but could not. I think I am making it my mission for next year.

Many races are run for the sake of sport. This one comes from the heart and soul of New Yorkers who will never let us forget.

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