Having a lot of extra vacation time to use up before the end of the year, it’s always nice to be able to take a day off, unwind a little bit and maybe get a run in. Today afforded me the opportunity to take a day off from work and head over to Abington, Massachusetts to take part in The Sgt. Daniel Vasselian Memorial 5K.
Sgt. Vasselian’s family decided to host this first annual run to pay tribute to all of the veterans who have served so nobly on behalf of our country. It was touching to see so many veterans in attendance at today’s race.
USMC Sgt. Daniel M. Vasselian was killed in action while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan with Bravo Company 1st Battalion 9th Marines. Sgt Vasselian; known to most as Danny or “V”; brought a light into the world that will never soften. Danny will always be known for his sense of humor, his laugh, kind heart and his ability to find the good in anyone. He brought happiness to everyone he met without realizing the true impact he would leave them with. Despite his gift of bringing humor and a lightheartedness to almost any situation, when it came to his passion in life; he proved to be one of the most fearless and determined Marines that we would ever encounter. He lived his life for his wife, family and friends and he laid down his life; not only for them – but for the freedom of a country that will be forever grateful to him.
The race started and finished directly in front of the Abington Police Department and the crowd of runners was amazing for a first annual race. Prior to the runners taking off on the pavement, Vasselian’s wife Erin and his military comrade Sgt. Aaron Alonso took to the course. Alonso lost both of his legs due to an IED attack while serving in combat.
The course took runners through residential side streets of Abington and twist and turned through some neighborhoods. Once hitting the mile 2 marker, everything changed. Runners made their way into a cemetery and ran past the grave of Sgt. Vasselian where two Marines stood guard. As we ran by, runners blessed themselves, chanted an “Ooo rah” or simply had the same emotions sweep across them that I felt. Though I have never served in the military, the amount of respect that I have for our veterans is endless and running a race on Veterans Day to show my support was a simple way to show that respect.
Coming into the finish line, motorcycles lined the last stretch into the finish and members of the veterans motorcycle club American Infidels stood cheering runners in.
I finished today’s Sgt. Daniel Vasselian Memorial 5k with a time of 22:12, good for 7:08/miles.
The race raised funds for the Danny V Fund and given the success of the race I truly hope this is the first of many races to come.