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McCollum's Column: Boston runners help tie together fabric of America

Posted: April 22, 2014 - 4:32pm

It was appropriate that the road to revival began right at one of the spots the road to freedom began in America.

On Patriots Day.

The 118th running of the Boston Marathon on Monday was special — not because of times — but because of renewal and reinforcement of spirit.

The explosion of support throughout the Boston area made one forget, at least for awhile, the deadly and disruptive explosion by terrorists last year.

The Star Spangled Banner wasn’t just a formality. It struck a deep chord in the pysche.

A moment of silence, at the exact moment of the bombing last year, was followed by cheers that reverberated throughout the hills and dales that Minutemen scurried and helped lay the foundation for our democracy almost 240 years ago.

Thirty-six thousand — and many more wanted to — ran this race. They ran to win. But not necessarily for a medal.

They ran to put an exclamation point on the resilient spirit of the American freedom and the emotional fabric that ties us together.

Many ran to prove they are not deterred by debilitating injuries because of the bombing.

Many ran in memory of those who lost their lives last year.

Many ran in honor of others, in uniform or not, who performed acts of bravery that saved lives and comforted victims.

Many ran just because — just because those who plotted and carried out that heinous act would not have the last statement or fire the last salvo.

And thousands of people, some who were victims last year, lined every inch of the course. The cheers for the runners grew in crescendo. The runners who were hitting the wall ran through it because of the spirit of others.

The Boston Strong turned into America Strong.

The Boston Marathon is one of the most challenging of all marathons. Many, whose body was telling them to quit, kept going because of the high-fives and encouragement or spectators, a few of whom (injured from last year who could not do the full course) registered for a bib and ran key segments.

Some runners ran with prosthetic legs — several completing the entire course; others with a segment that included the finish line.

During this race, there were no Democrats or Republicans or Independents or Don’t Cares who were running, walking and/or cheering. These were Americans (and those who embrace the promise of America) bonded by a resilience, a defiance and a determination that can only be generated by community. This was family, huffing and puffing and sweating, but with a purpose larger than themselves to prove — that good can and will overcome evil.

A couple of groups of runners carried fellow participants, who had collapsed, across the finish line.

But possibly the most telling and emblematic scene concerned Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky. They were newlywed last year as they traveled to the finish line to watch the runners. When the bombs went off, each was severely injured that resulted in the loss of both of their left legs.

This year, the couple were more than spectators. They completed the 26.2-mile course together riding handcycles.

They rolled across the finish line holding hands.

It was part of their rehabilitation process.

And ours.

(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or david.mccollum@thecabin.net or follow him on twitter @dmaclcd)

 

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