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Letter: Rising Above Terrorism: Marathoners Win, Terror Loses

To the Editor:

America, we must continue running.

Our United States history has proven repeatedly that those who persevere will prevail in the end, similar to a marathon.

Ask any avid runner about their approach to marathon preparation and you will understand the mental, as well as physical, preparedness a runner endures. America, we must adhere to a similar approach to combating the tawdry-spirited nature of terrorism.

On Monday morning, tens of thousands of runners tied their shoelaces, readied for the hilly terrain of the New England race, and stood on the marks of the annual Boston Marathon. By their side stood hundreds of thousands of supporters, babies strapped in jogging strollers, passionate runners with prosthetic limbs, those in wheelchairs, and eager youth, joyfully awaiting their loved ones to cross the finish line and some silently dreamt of their own opportunity to run. With the finish line in sight, terrorism struck America in a similar fashion as it had on Sept. 11, 2001—it shocked us all.

Naturally, terror evokes fear in our hearts and minds, making it difficult to understand just how I could hold my innocent, flawless, week-old baby girl, watching in awe such horrific images. Images that depict despair and make one question the world in which our baby girl has entered.

However, once our hearts and minds settle, we must understand fighting terrorism is of a similar nature to preparing for a marathon. A runner must never lose sight of the end goal and understand the ever-changing environment each marathon race presents. The Boston Marathon has changed dramatically since its inception in 1897; its fever has garnered international attention and has attracted some of the world’s most talented distance runners of modern times.

Sadly, the face of terrorism has also taken a different form. Today, terrorist attacks continue to become more vicious and spontaneous. Terrorists are equipped with advanced technology, increased funding resources, and the ability to readily acquire new and dangerous weapons aimed solely to cause pain and destruction upon innocent people.

During the months, weeks, and days leading up to a marathon, a motivated runner’s preparedness evolves with every workout. Sometimes going to the gym might not seem feasible or pushing yourself to run that extra two miles may appear beyond reach. However, with the concrete goal of qualifying for such a historic event as the Boston Marathon, you find the motivation to push through and conquer thoughts of being overwhelmed.

We must adopt a similar approach towards terrorists. Our United States will not lose the war on terror. The terrorists' senseless tactics to destroy our great nation, one that defeated both domestic as well as international terrorists and terrorist organizations, will not deter us from reaching our goal of peace and prosperity for all those who seek it.

Similar to a marathon runner, our preparedness to defend our nation against terrorists must evolve. Within sports as in the game of life, motivation is pivotal; often found in many forms, we usually seek it within previous examples of perseverance.

We see a mother and father grieve the lost of their child during the Sandy Hook massacre, and awake the next morning with the determination to protect other families from experiencing a similar horror. Tempted to lie down in the face of terror, they rise to the occasion and push.

The walk towards a safe America continues through their example. History has shown us countless examples. While standing in a worn tub on the evening of April 4, 1968, James Earl Ray single-handedly embedded fear and terrorized the Civil Rights Movement. With one single shot, he had taken the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., who inspired hope for many Americans and oppressed groups across the globe. The world stood weakened, but on April 8th, Coretta Scott King, along with her four small children, returned to the city that had metamorphosed her into a widow only four days prior, and held a non-violence march through the streets of Memphis, along with 40,000 united Americans. The march towards freedom continued by way of her example and a motivated America.

Marathon athletes train, they anticipate days when their energy is stumpy, mentally preparing for the grueling muscle cramps, shin splints, and enduring the feelings of dehydration. April 15, 2013 changed the history of the Boston Marathon forever; it will never be the same. The loss of an 8-year-old little boy who understood the benefits of peace, a 29-year-old enthusiast of life, a Boston University graduate student, and the hundreds injured will forever be inscribed in the history of one of the world’s best-known racing events.

Americans—we rise, we persevere, and we pull together, encouraging those directly impacted by terror. We fight against terrorism and we win! I do not proclaim to be a teller of the future, but I can guarantee next year’s Boston Marathon will receive record numbers of spectators, record numbers of registered participants, and record numbers of starters and finishers; all inspired to fight against terrorism. Next year’s Boston Marathon will prove this true; it will be a monumental event. The preparation starts TODAY. Good running America. “Marathoners run, Americans lead, and terrorists destroy, but in the end, we WIN!”

Omari J. Faulkner

Reston

Omari Faulkner is a former U.S. diplomat. Faulkner graduated from Georgetown University and currently works as a business development professional at ManTech International. He serves on multiple non-profit boards, focused around protecting children and educational reform.