Monday, August 07, 2006

Hope and Possibility

I had the privilege Sunday morning to run a five mile race in Central Park. Now, I've run plenty of races in Central Park and my running madrega isn't what it used to be. But this one was different. It was the "Hope and Possibility Race," organized by the Achilles Track Club, an international organization of disabled athletes. It includes a "Freedom Team" made up of wounded American veterans. Some were in wheelchairs, some used handcycles and, though without use of their legs, had arms bigger than mine, and mine aren't exactly toothpicks. Some ran on an artificial leg, some on two. All had on the back of their shirts, "We were just doing our jobs." What they didn't say is that all of them volunteered for their "jobs;" the military here in America is not drafting people anymore. Running alongside them is a most humbling experience. How dare I complain about the heat, the hills, my arthritic knee or anything else? I would imagine it is like a kid in yeshiva 80 or so years ago finding himself in the presence of the Chafetz Chaim or Rav Kook. You're nothing next to them. What do you do? What do you say? What do you say to someone who sacrificed a leg, two legs, his eyesight, so that I can run in a public park in shorts and a sleeveless top and not worry about the religious police carting me off to jail? I would call out "God bless you," but oh how trite. Then there were all the firefighters cheering them and us on. They were cheering us! They, who ran into the Twin Towers when everybody else was running out, who lost 343 good men that day, many of whom don't even have a proper kever.
May God be with every one of them as they rebuild their lives, and with every soldier still out there "just doing their jobs."

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