There were emotional scenes at the Boston Marathon this weekend as Staff Sgt. Jose Luis Sanchez crossed the finishing line carrying the American flag.
The retired Marine from San Antonio, Texas lost the lower part of his leg after stepping on an IED during deployment in Afghanistan in 2011 but managed to fight back to complete the 2017 marathon on Patriots Day.
Speaking afterwards Sanchez, who ran with the help of a prosthetic leg in aid of Semper Fi Fund, said he decided to run to help other veterans overcome their obstacles.
It’s not for me, it’s for others to be inspired, to be motivated,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Times, after finishing the race.
“We live for others — I’ve learned that throughout being angry and frustrated and all that PTSD. I’m channeling that to do positive and give back to whatever I’ve taken from the community.”
The flag held special significance for the now retired Marine.
It had been sent to him by his patrol unit while he recovered in hospital after his accident in 2011, he told Runners World.
It is covered by handwritten personal messages and words of inspiration from his colleagues, but never actually looked at the flag until years later.
“I boxed it up for three or four years because I didn’t want to acknowledge it,” he explained. “One day, I opened it back up and read through the inspirational quotes they sent me, and I was motivated.”
Sanchez carried the flag for the entire 26.2-mile route and was still waving it as he crossed the finishing line in a time of 5 hours 46 minutes.
It’s hard to find a better Patriots Day story than that.