By Marine Staff Sgt Brian Buckwalter
So, I ran ten miles yesterday. It was a beautiful day to run too; crisp morning air, but not too cold and not a cloud in the sky. I wasn’t the only one running that far though. Close to 30,000 others joined me. We all ran the 25th Anniversary of the Army 10-Miler.
The race started and finished at the Pentagon, and wound its way past several of Washington, D.C.’s most prominent landmarks like the Kennedy Center and the U.S. Capitol. I ran with several others from work on the team, “Go Team DMA!” We didn’t win the race, but we all finished at personal best times, which was the goal.
Wounded warriors ran the race this year too – I didn’t see any because they started almost 20 minutes ahead of everyone else … except for one soldier, who I caught up to around mile four. One of his legs was fine, but the other was in a cast that forced his knee to be bent at a 90-degree angle. Attached to that shin was an extension – almost like a prosthetic. He had to use crutches to keep his balance. He wasn’t moving very fast, but he sure was working hard. Sweat poured from his face, and he looked like he was in a good deal of pain. As people ran past, they shouted words of encouragement, which seemed to be the only thing that kept him going.
I have no idea if he finished, but he was inspirational to see. Inspirational because I have wondered how I would handle a life-altering injury like that. If I would handle it with a similar determination and drive he was. My encounter with him lasted only a few seconds in a race that went over an hour, but the impact he had on me will last much longer than my soreness in my legs today. And thank God my legs are sore. Because of that soldier, I will never take that pain for granted again.