Originally written 25 Feb 2016, at the start of day 2 of a 4 day 161 run down the coast of Southern California in honor of fallen female servicemembers.
Day one is in the books and by the time you’re reading this, we’ll be moving through the next 43 miles and thinking about the next 43 names – their families, their stories, and their sacrifices. As we did yesterday, today has a secondary dedication.
Today was dedicated to 43 fallen servicemembers, their names will be posted tonight. But today’s secondary dedication was a request of a former student, deployed intel officer, and fellow female Marine. She wrote me a couple months ago and asked if I could dedicate something to the women currently fighting ISIS – specifically those in the YPG. So today’s 43 miles are dedicated to all the women of our coalition partners. From the British allies who made me run a half marathon dressed as wonder woman to Israeli defense forces to the Iraqi and Syrian women resisting violent extremism to the mothers fighting Boko Haram . History has shown that women often pay a high price when conflict comes to a nation – and the current fight is no different. Women face rape, abuse, and captivity. Many face these dangerous with a resolution, strength, and calm that I cannot fathom.
When I think of the price women pay in war, I think back to an article I read in Runner’s World years ago. There was an organization that organized a 5k for women in a war-torn country someone across the globe. While unfortunately I can’t remember the details on the state or the non-profit working in the area. I remember the picture of a smiling woman with a missing leg, cheering on the runners. She was interviewed and told her horrific story of rebels attacking her house and among other atrocities, amputating her leg. Here she was smiling and cheering those that could do what she, at that moment, could not. She was excited because the organization was raising funds to purchase a prosthetic for her. She was planning on running the 5k the next year. This story has stuck with me for a number of reasons but the biggest is that this women, who has withstood so much was so joyful in the prospects of running. Now I understand the joys of running, but usually I take them for granted. I also take for granted the security afforded to me by virtue of living in the United States. I take for granted that I wake up every morning healthy and happy. This story also sticks with me as a prime example of the power and strength of women and our ability to simply endure. To find joy after suffering, during suffering, despite suffering, or perhaps even because of it.
So this day I think of the women around the world putting themselves in danger every day for a better world for everyone – women, men, children. The Mahalas and other young women that fight extremism by simply walking to school.The Kurdish women that leave their homes to form battalions to fight ISIS in their homes.The women that protect their children as they flee into the bush. The women that are so grateful and joyful to receive shoes so they too can run a 5k.
There are stories like these around the world and those stories along with the 43 women will carry us through the next 43 miles.