A special “Thank you” to the Semper Fi Fund from a Marine Corps Marathon runner.

Kathy,
So first, I have to say “Thank you.” The whole experience of the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon was absolutely fantastic. Couldn’t have asked for a better day to run away from the 30mph head wind we met up with at mile 22. The pageantry of the Marines and their history and their honor and their code can only be summed up in one word… and that is inspirational.

This letter was sent to Kathy Wise, our Coordinator for the Marine Corps Marathon, from William Dial one of 815 athletes who supported the Semper Fi Fund in the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon.

 

Semper Fi Fund Supporter - William Dial
Semper Fi Fund Supporter – William Dial

When I was 18, I went to the local Naval/Marine recruiters office and inquired about ROTC and becoming a Marine. I am not sure why I did but I had the greatest poster of a Marine decked out in camo with face painted in a swamp somewhere … nose barely poking out of the water… eyes of steel, completely focused on whatever mission was intended for him… I said to myself, that’s the kind of man I want to be. Needless to say, my mother and father had other ideas for me, but that desire has never left me. Not completely sure why it has taken me 22 yrs to return to that part of my life but this past weekend was truly phenomenal and emotionally rejuvenating.

 

While I would never actually call myself part of the Marine Corps Family, there were so many moments whether it be Saturday night or Sunday pre/during/or post the run when I honestly felt like I was part of one of the greatest Families in the world; the United States Marine Corps. The respect and admiration I gave to each and every Marine I encountered, was completely and totally reciprocated by them. From the Marine that checked us in at the Expo; to the one of hundreds along the route; to Lt. Yuhas who placed my medal around my neck; to the “drill sergeant” like Marine directing us to the finishing area… Never one ounce of disrespect or anything but honor and code in the actions and demeanor of each and every Marine. Made me want to turn the clock back 22 years and fight my parents harder to join the Marine Corps after college.

 

Anyways, back to the point. I can’t remember the last time I was so moved by an event like Saturday’s dinner… actually I was under-prepared emotionally. For the most part I am a pretty even keel, hard to shake person. Yet at one point, after looking around that room, seeing those men and women who had given so much to serve our country, I found myself in tears at the magnitude of the gift they and the rest of the armed service men and women give to my children and my wife, my extended family and friends, and all of my fellow Americans. The gift of being protected against those persons who, for whatever reason, have the desire to hurt us as a nation… and honestly, at that point, I felt as though I hadn’t done nearly enough in terms of fundraising for these brave and valiant men and women…

 

Whether fortunate or unfortunate, my 10yr old daughter and 12 yr old son who were with me, caught me unable to hold back my tears and both came over and asked if I was what was wrong and if I was OK. I took them in my arms and hugged them tight knowing that they couldn’t be safer under the mindful watch of each and every man and woman that called themselves part of the Marine Corps. While every one of the 30,000 runners felt the pride and admiration of seeing all the Marines at the expo, at the start, along the route and at the finish, being a part of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund and knowing that maybe I could help one or two of those Marines, or a Marine that would be injured in the near future, was just a feeling like no other.

Later that evening, both my older children came to me separately and told me how proud they were of me, and that the evening with the Marines was probably the coolest thing they have ever done. Now whether their mother put them up to that, I will never know, nor do I care to know, but hearing that from my 10 and 12 yr old is one of the proudest moments in my life. Hopefully moments like that stick with them and they are able to give back to society in whatever form or fashion fuels a passion in them as I know it has for me. And for those moments and feelings, I have to thank the Semper Fi Fund for allowing me and my family the opportunity to experience it.

So, “Thank You.”

 

“Thank you” to all the volunteers who work so passionately to make the SFF the success it is. “Thank you” to Karen for founding the fund and sticking with it and believing in it during the early years. “Thank you” to General Gray for being the loud, reasonable, compassionate voice of the fund. And “Thank you to all the Marines and armed service men and woman who either have benefited or will benefit, and those that will hopefully never benefit, from the SFF for all they do. “Thank you” for the sacrifices they make and for inspiring me to be a better man.

 

Humbly,

William Dial