I woke up excited to blog about the heroic contributions of Jackie Robinson. It was my first time writing about him and I could not wait to share my thoughts with the world. I was happy to see that #JackieRobinsonDay was trending on Twitter. Major League Baseball players were tweeting and Instagramming pictures of their #42 jerseys. And somewhere in the U.S, the last player to wear #42, Mariano Rivera, was gearing up for his last Jackie Robinson Day.
As I continued to enjoy the day that was known as Jackie Robinson Day, I would later find myself in tears as the Boston Marathon was rocked by an act of terror. I cried as I prayed for the runners that were injured. I cried as I prayed for the families who had not heard from their loved ones. I cried as I prayed for all those who would be tasked with saving lives. As the days rolled on, I found myself feeling proud to be a part of the running community. All across the nation, runners were banding together to stand united for Boston.
One year later, as Boston remains strong, I am reminded of why I was excited to blog on this day. One year later, on a day that is now forever linked to tragedy, we can all look to the example that Jackie Robinson set for us 67 years ago. An example that showcased determination, heroism and courage. On Monday, when runners take to the streets of Boston we will see reflections of that same legacy manifested in the form of men and women, some whom never got the chance to complete their race last year.
Jackie Robinson Day. Boston Marathon. April 15. Forever linked. Forever unbreakable.
I have gotten really tired of writing posts about sports related tragedies. Today is no exception. Yesterday started out as a normal day. Monday. Kinda gloomy. Warm. However, this Monday would not be like the previous Monday. The sports world started the day celebrating the accomplishments and legacy of Jackie Robinson and ended the day with questions and tears as the holy grail of marathons, The Boston Marathon, was rocked to its core.
Shortly after 2:45, two explosions took place. One near the finish line and the other about 50 feet away. As chaos ensued, emergency personnel rushed to the sites of the explosions to put their training to use. On a day that was suppose to mean to much to so many, it has now been marred by an hellacious act.
As a fellow marathoner, the tears immediately begin to flow upon hearing the news. I know what it is like to be within a few feet of the finish line. I know what it is like to see your final destination ahead of you. I know what it is like to know that all your hard work is about to pay off. I know what that finish line means. That finish line to many is a representation of all the obstacles, trials and devastation, that many had to overcome not only to make it to the finish line but to make it through life. Every marathoner has a story. Whether it was the death of a loved one, failing in school, being told you would never amount to anything, debt, abuse, depression, etc, the finish line sends a statement to the runner as well as the world, that this particular finisher is equipped with whatever he or she needs to overcome anything that comes his/her way.
The running community is a family, especially those in the 26.2 club. We know what it takes to finish those races. We know the hard work that has to be put in. We know the sacrifices that are made to ensure that we cross that finish line. Not only do we know but our family and friends know as well. Today’s act not only effects runners in attendance but their supporters as well. A marathon is about more than just the participants. Most of us would never cross the finish line without the support of our family, friends and complete strangers who come to marathons just to cheer for the runners. Trust me when I say that spectators, staff, emergency personnel, law enforcement and volunteers are just as important to a marathon as the runners themselves.
The sadness I feel is not likely to go away easily but it makes me even more determined to go out and accomplish yet another goal I have zoned in on. For those of you who have never crossed that finish line, it may be hard for you to understand. Or maybe not. Think about that one goal you have your mind set on. Think about how hard you have worked to reach that goal. Think about how you have put the plan in motion and you are almost there. 10 steps away from the finish line and then just like that, the line is gone.
The finish line at a marathon should serve as a source of triumph not of tragedy. It should be a place where runners are celebrated for their accomplishment not consoled because their dream was shattered. It should be a place full of exuberance, laughter and tears of joy not sadness, disorientation and tears of distraught.
Yesterday the finish line may have been compromised but it is not to be denied. The Boston Marathon will rise from the ashes again and the determination, dedication and resilience of the runners, supporters, volunteers, emergency personnel, law enforcement and spectators will be evident once again. This is now the stumbling block that many of the runners and those in attendance will now have to overcome. The thing that stands between them and the finish line. The situation that will motivate them to dig deep. Keep pressing. Keep pushing. Keep going. The finish line is waiting for you.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, those in attendance and all those who have been affected by this tragedy. UNITED WE STAND.
On this day, 66 years ago, the landscape of Major League Baseball(MLB) was forever changed. On this day, 66 years go, starting at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers was Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson. On this day, 66 years ago, Robinson became the first black man to break through baseball’s elusive color line.
I had every intention of going to see 42, the movie about Robinson’s life, on Friday. However, unforseen circumstances prevented me from attending opening night. And I still have not managed to make it to the theater. This is a movie that I have been excited about for months. As a black woman, I am beaming with pride at the fact that a film depicting the true story of an American legend, who happens to be black, is being shown all across the world. 66 years ago, who would have thought that would ever be a reality?
In 1997, in what I think is one of the most significant moments in baseball history, MLB retired the number 42 across the league. No other players, other than the players that were currently wearing the number 42, would ever wear that number again. EVER. The significance of that transcends beyond baseball. It recognizes a man for not only what he did for baseball but what he did for this country. The Civil Rights Movement had yet to begin in the United States and here was a man who willingly put his life on the line, literally. Was it a popular decision? Of course not. Was there outrage? Of course there was. Were there people who thought there were other players in the Negro League more deserving of being the first? Certainly. 66 years later, all of that is a moot point.
On April 15, 2004, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig officially declared April 15 to be Jackie Robinson Day. Often called the most significant moment in MLB history, Selig stated that “by establishing April 15 as ‘Jackie Robinson Day’ throughout Major League Baseball, we are further ensuring that the incredible contributions and sacrifices he made — for baseball and society — will not be forgotten.” At the end of this baseball season, whenever the New York Yankees finish their season, the last remaining player wearing number 42, Mariano Rivera, will retire. It is fitting that Rivera, a Latin American player who is arguably the greatest closer the game has ever seen, will do his final curtain call wearing the number that means so much to not only blacks but Latin American players as well. In 2011, Rivera called it a privilege and an honor to wear number 42 because of what Jackie represents for us(Latin American players). 66 years ago, who knew that Robinson’s impact would not only be felt in North America but on other continents as well.
So here we are, 66 years later and the impact that Robinson has had on MLB and the world is still being felt in 2013. The next generation is learning about him; what he stood for and the tremendous impact he had on race relations. Those already familiar with his story are having their memories refreshed and are often times learning new tidbits about Robinson. And those that were around in 1947 are recalling what that moment was like for American History. 66 years ago, blacks could not drink out of the same water fountain as whites. 66 years ago, black soldiers, who had served their country during World War II, were treated like second class citizens by the country they fought to defend. 66 years ago, there were black men who were beaten, ridiculed, heckled and lynched because of the color of their skin. 66 years ago, a black man stood courageously at first base as his fellow Americans hurled insults at him and questioned his right to play “their game.” 66 years later, a black man’s bold stance against inequality has resulted in him being called a legend. A hero. An American Treasure.
Thank you Mr. Robinson!!! Happy Jackie Robinson Day!!!