Air Force veteran and DAV life member Rich Roberts has logged countless miles in his long running career, but none were quite as meaningful as the 26.2 he ran for the men and women who served with Team DAV at this year’s Boston Marathon, April 21, 2014.
The first Boston Marathon since the attack that left three dead and hundreds wounded, this race meant so much more to Roberts than a medal or a personal record. Roberts’ first thoughts after the 2013 tragedy were sorrow, and then resolve to qualify for and run the 2014 Boston Marathon.
“This marathon is a statement that America is not going to be defeated because someone blew up a bomb to try to stop us,” said Roberts. “The goal of terrorism is fear, and I’m not going to be afraid.”
Roberts knows he is not alone in this view.
“Running is an important part of American culture. We’re proving something to ourselves,” said Roberts. “Runners are resilient, and that’s a reflection of this country’s resiliency.”
Roberts noted that after last year’s attack, participants and spectators joined first responders in running toward danger, instead of away from it, to help those who had been injured. He explained that the courage seen in Boston on April 15, 2013 is exhibited daily by service members deployed in a combat environment.
“Service members and veterans are the same kind of people that run toward danger to help; you don’t leave somebody behind. If an ally gets hurt on the field, you go back to help them at any cost. Wounded veterans epitomize that, they’ve sacrificed a lot.”
Roberts knows about sacrifice. His father is an injured veteran and fellow DAV member, and traveled to Boston with his wife to cheer on their son as he raced along the historic route in a Team DAV jersey.
Team DAV’s core mission is to bring awareness to the issues facing ill and injured veterans, and educate veterans and their families about the services and programs earned through service. It also provides camaraderie to veterans, current service members and supporters looking to give back.
“Running with Team DAV is a great opportunity to show our support and rally around the veteran population,” said National Adjutant Marc Burgess. “DAV works every day to empower the men and women who served, and this is just another way we can recognize veterans for their service and sacrifice.”
During the grueling hills of this elite race, Roberts found inspiration to charge on by reflecting upon the men and women who sustain injuries while defending the American belief system.
“My suffering for two and half, three hours is nothing compared to what the injured marathon spectators or wounded veterans experienced,” said Roberts. “Those are the real heroes.”