Sunday at 8 a.m., while many GW students are still sleeping and relaxing after a stressful week of midterms, 25,000 people just minutes away from Foggy Bottom will together embark on a 26.2-mile journey through the city and neighboring area.
I will be within this large mass of runners. I will be running the Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Va. for a charity called the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors supports families and friends of the fallen through numerous programs. Over this past summer, I agreed to run the Marine Corps Marathon for this group, after a friend persuaded me into running for the charity. I only had to raise $500, how bad could it be? This run would boost my endurance and prepare me for other races in the season. Besides, my dad was a Marine, so I guess I had the obligation to run for a military-related charity once in my life.
My attitude changed in September, when I was paired with a man who would forever change my life. As a runner for TAPS, I had the option to run for a random solider who had fallen in combat and run in his or her memory.
My initial impression was indifferent, as I figured the soldier was killed in combat decades ago in a war before my generation, and that this run would be more about honor than reality that I could relate to.
I could not have been more wrong. I never met this man, but his story is one I will never forget. His name was staff sergeant Patrick Dolphin. Twenty-nine years old and a native of Moscow, Penn., Patrick passed away July 31, 2011, while supporting combat operations in Herat province, Afghanistan.
This man was 29 years old. He was not even a decade older than what most consider to be a man and was already on his fourth combat tour abroad serving his country. He has a mother and father and a beautiful wife. He planned on starting a family and raising children of his own after his final tour in Afghanistan.
The world may never truly know the full potential of this amazing man.
As a young man barely in my 20s, and only now graduating from college, this reality has hit home more than I could have imagined. One lesson I have learned is to better appreciate the time we have here together. Time is not a certainty for any of us, so we must take advantage of the time we have here. It might sound trite, but live each day to the fullest and take it as your own. With this, take a moment each day to reflect on sacrifice and what it truly means to your life.
Because of the story of Patrick, I have a new appreciation for the life I live. On the morning of Oct. 30, my race day, I will proudly wear a photo of Dolphin on the back of my runner’s singlet.
Every step I take will not bring Dolphin back, of this I am aware. I will run every step of the race in memory of this brave man and for every man and woman who has paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Tim Savoy is a writer is a senior majoring in public health.