On Patriot's Day of 2013, two immigrants, who came to America, enjoyed the benefits of freedom, while reaping the many opportunities this country has to offer, performed one of the most heinous acts in American history. They took advantage of America's good will. They feebly attempted to strip us of an iconic event, a World Series of our sport, enjoyed equally by both participants and spectators alike.
"Why?" We asked.
Many of us, in anger, lashed out. We rued the idea that the United States of America opens its arms to those who come to our country, yet fail to appreciate our ideals and values.
"Ingrates!" We cried.
But we are a nation of immigrants. My ancestors escaped a potato famine to work in the Pennsylvania coal mines. The actions of a few are not representative of the immigrant spirit on which this nation was built.
So, on Patriot's Day 2014, it was an immigrant who strode down the same Boylston Street that, a year ago, had been defiled by a senseless act.
It was a hard-working immigrant, who represented what this country is all about: hard work, dedication, empathy, and a will to win. It was an adopted son of America who was the leader of over 32,000 runners who, on April 21, took back our finish line.
Meb Keflezighi, who immigrated to America from Eritrea as a boy, became the first American man to win the Boston marathon in 31-years, clocking a time of 2:08:37. He did so with elegance, class, and a unique sense of patriotism.
The names of last year's three bombing victims, as well as the MIT police officer who was killed in the manhunt, were written on his bib.
"At the end, I just kept thinking, 'Boston Strong. Boston Strong,'" he said. "I was thinking, 'Give it everything you have. If you get beat, that's it.'"
"I'm blessed to be an American and God bless America and God bless Boston for this special day," said Keflezighi.
"I came here as a refugee, and the United States gave me hope," Meb said. "This is probably the most meaningful victory for an American because of what happened last year."
On Monday, Meb Keflezighi restored OUR hope.
He took back our finish line.