At the time we put Athens Now “to bed” for this second edition in April, 2013 our country was still reeling from the evil perpetrated upon innocent runners as they crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon. An eight year old boy died, as did a woman in her late 20s, and a Chinese grad student working on her Master’s degree. Many more were injured, some critically, and some lost their limbs. Much can, should and will be said about the attacks as more facts become known and verified.
As news of the carnage hit the cable news programs, I was chatting with a customer about the attack, and she brought up an additional aspect of this tragedy that I thought deserved to be discussed in this column.
There were Wounded Warriors there. They are part of what is known as the Achilles Freedom Team, and had arrived to participate in the race by hand cycling the entire 26.2 mile course. Here are some of their comments as reported by Paul Burton of Boston’s CBS affiliate WBZ prior to the explosions:
“Doing Boston is the oldest marathon; it’s a privilege to do that,” said retired Marine Sgt. Michael Frazier, 30. “Just to be able to do the Marathon is a dream come true.”
Veteran Jake Murphy of Wellesley is just happy to be home. In July 2011, his entire life changed while he was on patrol in Afghanistan. “The IED went off; took both of my legs. And I was in a coma for six weeks and suffered traumatic brain injury,” the 26-year-old said of the injuries he suffered from an improvised bomb.
Murphy said he’s proud to not only serve his country but also participate in the Boston Marathon. “My first Boston (Marathon) after years of watching people,” he said.
Now that is a statement that is most definitely haunting, and in so many ways not at all surprising. Wounded Warriors are remarkable people, whether their wounds are obvious or not. The fact that they remain steadfast in their commitment to our country on the one hand is extraordinary, and on the other, simply what one would expect.
But, as my client said, “Haven’t they seen enough?” Whoever did this, (and one way or another they will be brought to justice, either human or divine, make no mistake,) pulled off, either by design or damnable luck, an extraordinary feat in psychological warfare. To attack someone like Murphy, who came to race after years of “watching,” and recreate what he had experienced in Afghanistan is evil on steroids.
However, something else has happened, as I told her it most likely would. There would be an honorable, undaunted response, and it came through their recovering brethren. Other Wounded Warriors, who themselves have lost limbs, will run in honor of the Boston runners, wounded and whole, who were stopped from completing their race. In their own way, Team Red, White and Blue is saying, as no one else can or does, “Bring it.”
In San Antonio, members of Team Red, White and Blue have laced up the shoes that go on the end of their titanium prostheses, and are racing the last 1.4 miles of what would have been the end of the Boston race. They are doing so on Friday evening at 8 pm, and as is most often the case with all of our soldiers, they will refuse to be cowed by the cowardice of terrorists. Simply said, our debt to them is unfathomable, and in these tender days of aftermath, may we go out of our way to thank them.The “Boston Massacre,” The Achilles Freedom Team, And Team Red, White And Blue.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner