Running to Remember

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United We Serve

Photo courtesy of Ron Patterson.

Photo courtesy of Ron Patterson.

On September 11th, 2001 I was sitting in my 9:00 am class when the president of my college suddenly opened the classroom door to inform us that two planes had hit the World Trade Center and a third had crashed into the Pentagon. It was my third week of college, and I had just completed ten months of service with AmeriCorps NCCC, based out of the Pacific Region campus.

My class was immediately dismissed and I ran across campus to my dorm room where I remained for the rest of the day, glued to the news. I was going to school in at the College of Wooster in northeast Ohio but I grew up in Arlington, VA, and both of my parents worked for the government in Washington, DC. I finally was able to reach them, and was relieved that they were safe and had made it home. I had lived in Arlington all my life before I joined NCCC. During my time as a corps member, I met so many different people, had countless new experiences and spent almost a year trying to make my country a better place in which to live. And even though I’d lived in the US all my life, I felt that in that year in NCCC I had gotten much better acquainted with my country through service—and here it was, under attack.

Photo courtesy of Martin Parr.

Photo courtesy of Martin Parr.

I came home for fall break at the end of the month, and on September 27th my mother and I went to the Pentagon so I could see what had happened for myself. I’ll never forget standing there across from the Pentagon and seeing the giant hole that the plane had left. As the tears inevitably welled up in my eyes, I thought about the people who were on that plane, and those who were working in the building that day—and for the police and firefighters who responded and saved people’s lives.

I participated in the Arlington Police/Fire/Sheriff 9-11 Memorial 5k race for the first time in 2008. When I heard about this race I knew it was something I needed to do to honor my hometown, my country, and most of all for all the victims in Arlington and in New York and those who risked their lives to save others.

Photo courtesy of Ron Patterson.

Photo courtesy of Ron Patterson.

This year will be my third time running in the Police/Fire/Sheriff 9-11 Memorial 5k. It is still moving and inspiring to run past the rebuilt west wall of the Pentagon. I encourage anyone who can to come out and run or walk this year to show your support. The race is on Saturday, September 11th at 6 pm and your participation will support many great charities through donations from this race. See you at the finish line!

The Arlington 9-11 Memorial 5K was created in 2002 by Captain Matt Smith and Detective Dan Borrelli after participating in a similar event in Buffalo, NY. Initially expecting a turnout of 500, the organizers were overwhelmed when 2600 runners showed up. $40,000 was raised that first year and now the race is an annual event eagerly anticipated by competitive and recreational. “To me, “says Captain Smith, “ it’s a way to bring members of the community together to pay their respects and hopefully also to have a good time. One thing I often hear from first time runners is – ‘I’m coming back and I’m going to bring more people next year’ – To see the race have that kind of positive impact on people, that’s the best part.”

Video created by Jeff Costlow. Used with permission of Arlington 9-11 Memorial 5K organizers.

The Arlington 9-11 Memorial 5K will be held on Saturday, September 11th at 6:00 PM. Startline and pick-up is at the Crystal City Double Tree Hotel - 300 Army Navy Drive, Arlington VA. Registration is available on site, but please arrive early as large crowds are expected.

More information about the race can be found here.

Alex Curley is a Program Associate in the office of AmeriCorps NCCC.

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