2014

5 November 2014: Quiet heroes walk and run among us

Quiet heroes walk and run among us

Election 2014 is in the books.  High-fives and wringing hands abound.  The results will indicate whether the American devolution into a plutocracy continues inexorably or if democratic rule and principled pragmatic problem-solving leadership is still tenable.

The page has turned and the 2016 campaign is upon us in this incessant, non-stop, wired, money-driven culture.  Early money: Hillary v. Jeb / Clinton v. Bush, that is if Hillary wants to make history and Jeb can stave off the looneys to his right.

For now though, enough said about the pathetic state of our civil disunion.  .

Lost in all the bluster was the story about first-year teacher Megan Silberberger of Marysville-Pilchuck High School who acted courageously and likely saved numbers of others from being shot by Jaylen Fryberg in the latest school shooting.  Megan’s action reminded me of Dave Sanders the teacher who died at Columbine and Victoria Soto who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Both Dave and Victoria sacrificed their lives to protect their students.  Megan could’ve lost hers as well.  Without a doubt, the risk she took is beyond heroism.

The heroic actions of these teachers and countless others who first and foremost protect their students and not their own hides need to be remembered and saluted.  Captains might go down with their ships, but teachers take a bullet to save their students.

Back in October I ran what I plan to be my last marathon.  It was my worst time, but my most memorable run.

At about mile five I came upon an older runner pushing a stroller.  As I closed in I can hear him talking to the one in the stroller.  As I passed, I saw a severely disabled child who I surmised was 10 or 12 years of age.  The gentleman was describing what was happening during the run to the child as he ran with nothing but joy on his face.

A couple miles later I caught up to a woman running on prosthesis.  Her right “leg” was all metal but that hardly daunted her.

By mile 20, I was spent.  At first I was frustrated but then I recalled not only the runner pushing what I assume was his disabled child and the woman with the “steel leg,” but of the hundreds and perhaps thousands who were undertaking a challenge—running 26.2 miles—with less ability than I.

At that point I decided to walk the last 10k—6.2 miles—and absorb the bountiful energy.  Near mile 22 I came upon a young man, probably in his late twenties, with a severe limp.  When I checked in with him, he said his doc diagnosed it three weeks earlier as plantar fasciitis.  He had trained long and hard and didn’t want the opportunity to complete his first marathon not be realized.

As we walked together, I assured him his time would count and that he was doing something utterly amazing.  I told him too about the older gentleman and the woman giving it her best.  His name was Peter, and he was determined to finish it off.

As Peter and I reached the halfway point up the hill on Lincoln St. from 8th up to 9th, a paraplegic man pushed by us.  When I cheered him, he said he was doing it on two flat tires.  Soon he began to slow and then stopped at least a 100 feet from the top.

I quickly closed in and after asking him if he’d like a little help, I pushed him to the top at which point I urged him “to take it home” as it was downhill from there.  Off he went.

Just then Peter caught up.  I told him it was about four blocks to the finish and mostly downhill.

“Want to go for it?” I asked.

He asked me if I could run it out and my answer was swift without hesitation.

“Hell, yea!” I yelled and off we went.

As we closed in on the finish line, I yelled, “Kick it, Peter!  Kick it!”  And he did, his long legs, one hampered by a gimpy foot, tearing it up.  He crossed the line with both arms extended high over his head to huge shouts and cheers.

No grousing from the man with the disabled child, the woman with one leg, the young man with a bum foot, or the paraplegic.  They all simply reached inside and did it.

No wringing hands.  Only high-fives.  The human spirit, indomitable.

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