Lyons: American people will always win big race

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Oct. 9, 2011 was my first marathon.

No congratulations are in order; I wasn’t running in it. I wouldn’t run that far unless I was being chased by very dangerous and very slow-footed people or large, carnivorous animals.

What I was doing wasn’t nearly as difficult as running 26.2 miles, although schlepping a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old through downtown Chicago streets was no stroll through the meadow, either.

My wife was running her first marathon, and it was a huge family event. We knew she could accomplish anything she wanted to accomplish, and we were determined to celebrate with her.

While she was slogging through some near South Side neighborhood, I was buttering pancakes at the Grand Lux Café on North Michigan Avenue. My major accomplishment for the day was wiping the syrup from sticky children, but this was a family day. It was about mom.

My daughter might have been too young to grasp the significance, but the boy understood. One of my favorite images will forever be a photo of our proud son hugging mom in Grant Park after she crossed the finish line.

He brought the medal to school later to prove that his mom was as tough as he boasted.

These were the memories that entered my mind Monday – knowing that the streets of Boston were teeming with people who were either accomplishing something they dreamed of accomplishing or celebrating that feat with spouses, children and friends.

What should have been a similar collective moment in Boston was shattered by killers.

At least for this discussion and for the moment, it doesn’t matter whether those killers were members of al-Qaida, Occupy Wall Street, some right-wing fringe group or one or two evil individuals acting for God knows what purpose.

Whoever was responsible for this despicable act succeeded in killing three innocent people, including an 8-year-old boy, and maiming dozens of others. They succeeded in bringing horror to one of the proudest cities in the world.

They succeeded in bringing permanent pain to victims and their families. They succeeded in making anyone with normal human emotions temporarily miserable.

But what all of these attacks fail to do is change much of anything inside the United States. Marathons will continue – in Boston, Chicago, New York and many other cities.

Moms from the suburbs and weekend warriors will continue to tread along country roads and treadmills training hard to test the limits of their physical and mental capabilities.

What they fail to do is to destroy the collective will of first-responders who risk their own lives for others, whether the terrorists are foreign or domestic. They fail to lessen the resolve of U.S. Homeland Security, the FBI or state and local police from protecting the public as they do time and time again.

They fail to stop Americans from continuing to gather at sporting events or to celebrate significant accomplishments.

They fail to persuade anyone that their particular cause has merit because no ends are justified by the means of terrorism.

Whatever message a terrorist has will continue to be lost on the majority of Americans who will band together when attacked, and they’ll get back to their lives – not for some medal or to cross some finish line – but because we’re better people than they are.

• Kevin Lyons is news editor of the Northwest Herald. Reach him at 815-526-4505 or email him at kelyons@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinLyonsNWH. 

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