As I run through peaceful mountain trails in Colorado, my thoughts are with my grieving friends and fellow runners in Boston. For me, growing up behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany, the Boston Marathon was always the Marathon of Freedom, held in a far-off country I could only dream of, where I knew people were free to speak their minds and live their lives. Then the Berlin Wall came down and in 1990, I finally and exuberantly stood on the starting line in Hopkinton to begin my own personal freedom run.
Today, I remembered that magical race and I suddenly experienced a profound feeling of strength that countered the confusion and disbelief of witnessing the wicked violence of the terrorist attack in Boston.
This cynical and sinister act of aggression against a peaceful and good-hearted people — runners, friends and spectators — happened during a 26.2-mile race renowned for friendship and camaraderie, and which, by its special nature, normally offers up the most inspirational stories of endurance and courage.
Instead, we were witnesses to unfolding stories of stunning heroism as doctors, nurses, other medical personnel, law enforcement officers, additional First Responders, runners, and spectators rushed into potential danger to help the injured. We watched marathoners lifting up fallen fellow runners and spectators carrying friends to safety even as the threat of more destruction loomed.
A terrorist’s cruelty did deprive us of our freedom to run on that afternoon. But only for a moment in time, because we all united and rushed forth to help our fellow citizens, and defied danger to stand up for our hard-fought principles of freedom. Rather than being weakened, we gained strength from this act of terror. We stood united and vowed to not have our freedoms compromised.
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