Before the start of the 9/11 Heroes Run in 50 cities around the world this past weekend, runners listened to these inspiring and emotional words:
Today we run to honor those who are no longer with us. We run to honor fallen heroes from every community across this great land. Heroes who wore the uniform of our nation — whether military, police, firefighter, or emergency responder. Today we run to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11 and since.
The 9/11 Heroes Run was started in 2007 after the death of 1st Lt. Travis Manion, who died while fighting in Iraq, as a way of honoring him and the sacrifice he made to protect our country. The race began as one event in Doylestown, Pa., where this Marine spent his growing up years. It has since grown into a 5K race series with over 25,000 runners in 50 cities around the world.
Thousands have been inspired by Travis and his bravery. After visiting the firefighters and first responders of 9/11 in 2007, Travis was preparing for his second deployment to Iraq. In the days leading up to his departure, his brother-in-law asked him, “Why go back?” Travis responded, “If not me, then who?” Since then, those words have gone on to become the motto for the 9/11 Heroes Run.
Travis’ father, Col. Tom Manion, USMCR (Ret.), said to runners, volunteers and spectators at Sunday’s Doylestown 9/11 Heroes Run:
Thanks to your support, ‘If Not Me Who…’ has grown into a global movement. As all of you gather here today, there are thousands more like you at other 9/11 Heroes Runs across America and around the world.
At the Philadelphia race, Travis’ sister spoke and honored her brother and another warrior:
We also also honor a fallen American hero named Petty Officer First Class Michael Strange. A United States Navy cryptologist who grew up right here in Philly, Michael was killed in a tragic helicopter crash last year.
Strange’s mother then added:
Please think of the brave men and women in Afghanistan right now. Please think of their families at home. And please think of people like my son, who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
In the wake of so much tragedy, it’s comforting to see so many communities pulling together to honor those who have died and continue to fight for our freedom. During this time of sadness and remembrance, thousands have banded together to run, to cheer and to volunteer in honor of the victims of 9/11.
Proceeds from the races benefit the Travis Manion Foundation which supports veterans, their families, and families of fallen service members through emergency assistance, scholarships, and other direct financial support when a family or veteran is in need.
Before the gun went off at the start of each race, the race director said to the crowds:
Show the world we are stronger and more united than ever. God bless you, God bless those in harm’s way today, and God Bless America!
May we suggest that you also dedicate your workout today to the victims and heroes of 9/11.
Photo: facebook.com, travismanion.com