Friday, April 24, 2015

COURAGEOUS-AGAINST ALL ODDS

As dawn broke on the morning of April 19, 1775, approximately 700 British "Regulars," the finest soldiers of the most powerful military force on the planet at that time, marched into the tiny Massachusetts village of Lexington.

On the village green, seventy brave colonists, all ages, from all walks of life, bravely blocked the path of the mighty British army. A skirmish ensued, the first shots of what would become the American Revolutionary War were fired, and in a span of five minutes or so, eight colonists died. No British soldiers were killed.

The bravery displayed by the Lexington militia set the stage for one of the greatest military upsets in the history of the world, leading to the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain.

Each year, New Englanders celebrate the events of that day on the third Monday of April. The holiday is known as Patriots' Day. For the past 119 years the Boston Marathon has been run on Patriots' Day. The race is rich with tales of courage and bravery.

At Monday's Boston Marathon, however, a runner who displayed the against-all-odds attitude exhibited by the seventy militiamen at Lexington so many years ago, taught us all the true meaning of courage.

Rebekah Gregory DiMartino and her then-fiance, Pete DiMartino, attended the Boston Marathon on that beautiful day, April 15, 2013. They were there to cheer for Pete's mother, who was a competitor in the race. After seeing her at mile 17, they hopped on the MBTA to watch her finish on Boylston Street.

Pete and Rebekah's son, Noah, then only 5 years old, were severely injured by the first blast from one of the bombs, placed near the finish line by the terrorists, the Tsarnaev brothers, and Rebekah endured 15 surgeries before having her left leg amputated below the knee last November.

At the 2014 Boston Marathon she tearfully crossed the finish line in a wheelchair, pushed by one of the nurses who helped her through her ordeal.

On March 4, she wrote a letter to one of the surviving animals who tried to destroy her on April 15, 2013. Following is her statement, taken from her Facebook page.

Dear Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,
My name is Rebekah Gregory. We don't really know each other and never will. But over the last two years, I have seen your face not only in pictures, but in almost every one of my nightmares. Moments before the first blast, your stupid backpack even brushed up against my arm, but I doubt you remember because I am no one to you. A complete stranger. And although I was merely just a blip on your radar, (someone that happened to be standing 3 feet from your designated "good spot" for a bomb), you have been so much more to me. Because you have undoubtedly been my source of fear since April 15th, 2013. (After all, you are one of the men responsible for nearly taking my child, and for the permanent image embedded in my brain of watching someone die.) Up until now, I have been truly scared of you and because of this, fearful of everything else people might be capable of.
But today, all that changed. Because this afternoon, I got to walk into a courtroom and take my place at the witness stand, just a few feet away from where you were sitting. (I was WALKING. Did you get that?) And today I explained all the horrific details, of how you changed my life, to the people that literally hold YOURS in their hands. That's a little scary right? And this afternoon before going in, I'm not going to lie..my palms were sweaty. And sitting up there talking to the prosecution did make me cry. But today, do you know what else happened? TODAY...I looked at you right in the face....and realized I wasn't afraid anymore. And today I realized that sitting across from you was somehow the crazy kind of step forward that I needed all along.
And I think that's the ironic thing that happens when someone intends something for evil. Because somehow, some way, it always ends up good. But you are a coward. A little boy who wouldn't even look me in the eyes to see that. Because you can't handle the fact that what you tried to destroy, you only made stronger. And if your eyes would've met mine for just one second, you would've also seen that what you "blew up" really did BLOW UP. Because now you have given me (and the other survivors) a tremendous platform to help others, and essentially do our parts in changing the world for the better.
So yes...you did take a part of me. Congratulations you now have a leg up...literally. But in so many ways, you saved my life. Because now, I am so much more appreciative of every new day I am given. And now, I get to hug my son even tighter than before, blessed that he is THRIVING, despite everything that has happened.
So now...while you are sitting in solitary confinement, (awaiting the verdict on your life), I will be actually ENJOYING everything this beautiful world has to offer. And guess what else? I will do so without fear....of YOU. Because now to me you're a nobody, and it is official that you have lost. So man that really sucks for you bro. I truly hope it was worth it.
Sincerely,
Someone you shouldn't have messed with.

On Monday, Rebekah, along with her trainer, also an amputee, ran the last few miles of the Boston Marathon, and triumphantly crossed the finish line, against all odds.
Next year, she plans to run the marathon, in its entirety.
And, you know what, I wouldn't bet against her!
Thank you, Rebekah, for through your strength and courage, you have made us all strong. You are Boston Strong and a true inspiration to us all.