Four Army men come jogging up the parking lot as we are lining up to start the 5K on Saturday. I nudge Mike who is standing near me and point them out. Dressed in camouflage long pants, brown T-shirts, their Army boots, carrying backpacks full of stuff…I start to sweat more just looking at them.
I do not think much of them until I catch up with them in the 5K and over hear them bantering back and forth….”Hey, I have cookies in my pack…” one exclaims to another. “I think it is time…” and they all laugh. I decide that I am at mile 2 and if I can keep pace with them it would be an awesome picture at the finish. I begin to banter with them, telling them how fun it would be to have them all enter the finish area in front of me and then all of a sudden I break through the middle of them. They love the idea.
As we continue running, one of the four slows down his pace. His partner realizes this and makes the other two stop while he runs back to get the one who has slowed down. He rejoins his partner and runs in step with him until the four are all together again. No comments were made about the guy that needed to slow down or why. They all just continued running as if one never lagged behind.
Somewhere, probably in a movie, I heard that military never leave a man behind. I imagine on the battlefield this is true, but to see this play out in a 5K left me in awe.
I finish the race ahead of these four and cheer loudly for them as they cross the finish as a unit. They have no idea how they touched my heart. Then I see two of them return to the path and emerge again with their wives who were also running the race. Tears came to my eyes.
These four will never know how much their simple actions touched me. The commitment of the four bound together by a military oath, not leaving one behind. Followed by the two running back to finish with their partners in life. It was a beautiful thing to witness. And my heart smiled.