9/11 is a date no one will never forget. And 17 years after the horrific event that changed our lives, today I attended a run that I will never forget.
Even though the events of September 11 shook us to our knees, today we rise proudly, honoring those we lost and those who protect and serve. And for us, we ran.
Organized by the Jersey Shore Running Club, the 9/11 Memorial Run was held at 6 p.m. on the Belmar Boardwalk. It was a grey and somber day, and by the start time, the rain had already been to fall. Further setting the mood, a little rain didn’t deter runners and walkers for coming out to show support and honor loved ones lost.
The run was approximately 3 miles, with the Jersey Shore Running club’s Tim Mahoney one of two to carry the American Flag along the boardwalk. This was a silent run, with no headphones, talking or paying attention to pace or distance. I have no idea how exactly how far I ran or how fast I ran, but this was freeing. Instead, we all ran from the heart. It was impossible not to run with chills down your spine and goosebumps on your arms that pumped back and forth with each stride. Oh, how lucky we are to take every single step.
This run was nothing short of emotional. It was hard not for tears to well up in the eyes as the rain dripped down our faces. I felt honored to be part of the pack, all of us coming together in unity. It was a time of reflection and remembrance.
The group was lead to the American flag across the street about a mile from the start. It was here the names of victims with their ages and where they live were announced. After a moment of silence, we continued back on the boardwalk another mile before forming a circle in the sand. More names where said. Some people wiped away tears while others looked up to the heavens. We stood there, hearing each name, feeling this loss for those maybe we didn’t even know.
The group then sang “God Bless America,” as the ocean’s waves crashed along the shore, ending the event on a powerful note.
“We reach our goal,” Mahoney said. He continued to state that it wasn’t about who finished at what time, but rather that we all came out to remember the family members, friends, and neighbors that are no longer with us.
We could only hope that they are looking down in a place of peace and smiling through the dark clouds.
Some walked, other continued to run back to where 16th Street where the 9/11 Memorial Run started. I couldn’t help to think of my Dad, a first responder. I just kept thinking how proud of him I am, and how lucky I am that he came home to us. And I thought about the other Dads that didn’t make it home. And the Moms. And the children who lives were torn apart. I looked down at my son napping innocently in the stroller and know I will hold him that much tighter tonight.
The rain began to fall harder at this moment as if God could feel our sorrow. I let the rain pour down on me, letting the floodgate of emotions go.
I ran for those we lost, but also make it possible for us to put out head’s to rest at night. I salute all those who risk their lives every day so that we get to enjoy ours without a care in the world.
The Jersey Shore Running Club’s 9/11 Memorial Run was something I am so happy I got to be a part of. It might not seem like much to some, but we came together to show the community that we will never forget.
Photo: Bob Both