EDITORIAL: Boston and nation show strength for 26.2 miles

FresnoApril 22, 2014 

Boston Marathon bombing hero Carlos Arredondo cheers for runners near the finish line of the 118th Boston Marathon, Monday.

ELISE AMENDOLA — AP

Monday's 118th running of the Boston Marathon displayed in full measure the resolve and unity meant by "Boston strong."

A year after explosions at the finish line killed three people and injured 264 others, an expanded field of more than 35,000 runners included victims and their relatives, first responders, others "personally and profoundly impacted" by the tragedy and nearly 5,000 runners who didn't get to finish in 2013.

Unprecedented security -- more than 3,500 police officers and 800 National Guard troops -- made sure that the race went off without incident, even with an estimated 1 million spectators lining the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Back Bay.

And in what can only be called a storybook ending, Meb Keflezighi of San Diego -- defying the odds at 38 years old -- became the first American to win the iconic race since 1985. He wore red, white and blue, had names of bombing victims on his runner's bib and broke down in tears at the finish line.

"At the end, I just kept thinking, 'Boston strong, Boston strong,' " he told reporters afterward.

It seems fitting that the one to break the Kenyan stranglehold was Keflezighi, who emigrated from Eritrea when he was 12 and made his own American dream come true. "God bless America and God bless Boston for this special day," he said.

Runners from the central San Joaquin Valley made their mark on the marathon, too. John Volkman of Fresno, running for the 16th time in the event, proposed to girlfriend Jodi Nili at the top of Heartbreak Hill. Madera's Benjamin Madrigal finished 188th overall with a time of 2 hours, 35 minutes and 15 seconds. And Jim Wagoner of Fresno pushed his son Colby over the course in a specialized racing wheelchair. They completed their grueling challenge -- which raised money for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress -- in 6:33:16. Bravo for them!

But it was just another day in federal prison for accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, awaiting his trial scheduled for November that could result in the death penalty. It shows America's values -- including a bedrock belief in the rule of law -- that he will have his day in court, afforded all the protections of the justice system. The Obama administration wisely resisted calls to take a quicker path and put Tsarnaev before a military tribunal. A marathon is a good metaphor for the hard work of our democracy.

From beginning to end, Monday's marathon was a sincere tribute befitting Patriots' Day.

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