Keep running for America
By Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith , I.G. Brown Training and Education Center
/ Published April 17, 2013
MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. --
Do you believe that running marathons can help the Air Force defeat terrorism? Across the board, the Air Force has the richest concentration of runners than most employers in the nation, maybe the world. The Total Force active duty, Reserve Command and Air National Guard's 500,000-plus service members all run 1.5 miles for their physical fitness tests, but we also have within that a subculture of marathoners who run for charities and personal goals. Or maybe we are just "kind of crazy," like some tell us on the flight line.
It's not hard to image why so many Airmen fighting our battles choose to push their bodies through one of the most grueling and testing sports. Airmen are told to seek excellence in all they do. That's one of our Core Values. In this case, that would be running. If you are one of them, you know that big running events like the Air Force Marathon have as many personal stories of challenge and triumph as there are entries, and we share our stories, too, of that battle, of those miles of pain and endurance. Isn't that battling an enemy?
At this point you more than likely figured that this is leaning toward the tragic events in Boston on Patriot's Day and how Airmen have a big role in the community by protecting the nation from criminals who plant bombs that kill innocent children. As a four-time marathoner, I venture to say that any service member who has run a public race has already done a lifetime's worth in the community for the nation's common good. It's those who hate that want us all to hide in a corner, yet Airmen still fight, this time, in America's neighborhoods and streets, with thousands of everyday race participants, in events across the nation, every weekend.
We can't help it. As Airmen, we love overcoming adversity wherever it dares make a cowardly stance.
But maybe we should wear our race shirts with a little more pride now, like we wear our battle uniforms. This time, it's our turn to thank those we protect for fighting that battle with us. They run next to us. In marathons forevermore, we now share a combat zone.
This time we see the finish line and know exactly how far it's ahead: 26.2 miles.
Be a model. Keep running for America.