And reader David sends this, which is just the story of everything:
Casey Owens completed his first marathon yesterday, which is always a tremendous accomplishment. But it was especially so for Owens, who just over a year ago was injured in an antitank mine explosion in Iraq. As he crossed the Marine Corps Marathon finish line, the 24-year-old Marine corporal from Houston was mobbed by well-wishers, including Marine Commandant Michael Hagee.
“It went great,” Owens said. “It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be, a lot more enjoyable. I couldn’t imagine a better marathon.”
Owens was the first Marine in a wheelchair to cross the finish line. Because he forgot to wear his timing chip, he did not receive an official time; however, he estimated that he finished in 2 hours 32 minutes. Not bad for a guy who hadn’t used a handcrank chair until a month ago.
“Pushing myself around in a wheelchair that was my training, and being a Marine,” said Owens, who had his left leg amputated below his knee and his right leg amputated above his knee.
Owens was one of 50 wheelchair competitors — 35 handcrank chairs, 15 traditional wheelchair — in yesterday’s race, the largest turnout in Marine Corps Marathon history. (Handcrank chairs are not officially recognized in the Marine Corps Marathon results.) Last year, only seven wheelchairs competed. The significant increase was due in part to the large number of military personnel injured in Iraq or Afghanistan who competed yesterday.
Every day the courage of people like Casey Owens shames our leadership.