There’s Boston Strong, and then there’s Jose Sanchez.
Four years after two brothers from Kyrgyzstan detonated home-made bombs in pressure cookers at the finish line of the annual race, killing three and injuring hundreds — including 16 who lost limbs — Sanchez decided to join the race.
Sanchez is a retired Texas Marine Staff Sergeant who was badly injured while serving in Afghanistan in 2011. He rarely talks about his injuries, including one leg amputated at the knee after he stepped on an IED. He says the injury left him introverted and anti-social. In fact, for five years he didn’t open a gift his fellow troops had given him.
But then he did. Inside the box was a large American flag, signed by dozens of his friends and comrades. On the flag were personal notes to him and inspirational tales of hardships overcome.
The flag changed him, hard.
On Sunday, he joined in the Boston Marathon, first run in 1897. But Sanchez, running with just one leg in a J-shaped carbon-fiber prosthetic, added a twist: He carried that massive flag for the entire 26-mile length of the course, taking five house 22 minutes to finish.
“Instead of putting it away, I wanted to fly this flag again in their honor,” Sanchez told local Boston station WBZ-TV after the race.
“It’s for others to be inspired, to be motivated. I don’t do it for myself,” he said. “We live for others — I’ve learned that throughout being angry, and frustrated, and with all that PTSD. I’m channeling it to be positive and to give back to whatever I have taken away from the community.”
Sanchez ran as part of Team Semper Fi, which is dedicated to delivering “immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post-9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families.”
Just try to watch this without getting a tear in your eye.
— AndreaWBZ (@AndreaWBZ) April 17, 2017