Friday, September 24, 2010

Step By Step

On Sunday morning Margaret, Gidg and I are making the migration across the river from the Jersey side into lower Manhattan for the 2010 Tunnel To Towers Run. In the limited amount of time that I have been running in organized events, the anticipation level for this race - for me - is as high as any event in which I have taken part.

It is different of course from the anticipation level I associate with the Race for the Cure, which is where the running adventure will take us one week from Sunday. For the Race, unlike the Tunnel to Towers Run, is a way of striking back at something that has taken a steep personal toll on my family and (I suppose) by extension on me. Perhaps my participation - as one person - has the practical effect of one man using a single bucket to try to beat back rising flood waters but it is my bucket and my sweat equity and I intend to never quit bailing. Please do not ask me to do so.

It is different as well from the manner in which I anticipated running in Boulder on Memorial Day with Rob in the Bolder Boulder. That day was also intensely personal - running side-by-side with my son through the streets of a town that meant the world to me at a time in my life when I was my entire world (and for those of you thinking, "How has that changed exactly?" keep your snide comments to yourself) - but in an entirely good way. There was no downside to Memorial Day in Boulder, which was precisely how I had anticipated the day would go.

This Sunday is, for me, different. While there is not a person in this country alive today who was alive on September 11, 2001 whose life has not been affected by the events of that day, it is a day that did not impact me personally. By that I mean that I know how fortunate I am that no one I love died that day. I know people who were far less fortunate.

At approximately 9:30 on Sunday morning Gidg and I will join the large number of runners and walkers gathered on the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and spend 3.1 miles retracing the steps of Stephen Siller. Siller was one of 343 members of the FDNY who died on September 11, 2001 attempting to save the lives of the thousands of people who were trapped in the Twin Towers.

In the years since Siller died, his family has turned their loss into something positive. And on Sunday morning Margaret, Gidg and I shall get to be part of their incredible generosity - sharing the memory of their loved one with the rest of us. And in doing so they have created a way in which those families, like theirs, can reinforce their bond with one another.

On Sunday morning Gidg and I will be among the 25,000 or so people heading through the Tunnel towards the finish line, retracing the steps of a incredibly brave man who many of us, such as Yours truly, never met. His is an incredible story -one of the seemingly countless such stories to come out of the horror that was the morning of September 11, 2001.

Heroes of all shapes and sizes emerged out of that day. Stephen Siller was one of them. It will be an honor to be one of the folks on Sunday morning retracing the steps he ran on September 11 because other's lives depended on it.

-AK


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