Sunday, September 26, 2010

Stephen's Disciples of Soles

It is still too early for me to know just what type of weather awaits those of us who are running in this year's edition of the Tunnel to Towers Run. I have been keeping an eye on it all week and the forecast has vacillated, ranging from "mostly sunny" with a less than 10% chance of rain to "showers" with upwards of a 40% chance of rain. Either way, a lot of us this morning - in a few short hours from now - shall run. I have never run in this race before but I have seen video footage of it from previous years, including last year when it took place in a steady, heavy rain. While I am sure it affected those who ran (as it always does me), none of the video footage revealed any discernible impact upon them. Some things are bigger than us. Today's race is one of those things.

Emerson wrote, "So nigh is grandeur to our dust, so near to God is Man. When Duty whispers low, "thou must", the Youth replies, "I can." He never met Stephen Siller or any of the several hundred men and women who died on September 11, 2001 while trying to rescue the several thousand men and women who were trapped in the Twin Towers. He never met those who were trapped in the Towers or on the airplanes that struck them and the Pentagon and - but for the heroic actions of the passengers aboard United 93 - something else as well. Yet even without the benefit of face-to-face contact or even an introduction, the person of whom Emerson wrote was a person to whom each and every one of us was introduced that day, whether we ourselves ever met a single one of them.

This morning, people shall gather to run from Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan because we can. And because Stephen Siller did. And because Siller and his brothers and sisters in arms, doing nothing other than that which came naturally to them, were heroes. And because those of us who have never been confronted with the type of circumstance that confronted everyone at the Twin Towers on that terrible September morning slightly more than nine years ago live with the same unanswered question in our own heart: would we - if we had been then where they were then - have done what they did? The question is not only unanswered in the heart of most of us but unanswerable as well.

Bernard Malamud wrote, "Without heroes we are all plain people and don't know how far we can go." This morning those of us gathered to run know exactly how far we can go. We can go the distance this morning that Stephen Siller covered that morning. Our journey shall bring us to where thousands of people - including Siller - lost their lives. Our journey is not his journey for our circumstances are far more benign than those that confronted him. But in retracing this morning his steps from that morning we honor his sacrifice and the sacrifice of the more than 3,000 people who died that morning. Heroes all.

That morning, Love and Duty called them all someplace higher. This morning, we run because love and duty call upon all of us - in one way or another - to find our way to a higher place.....

Even if it just for a little while.


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