Staff Sgt. Jose Luis Sanchez lost his leg after an IED detonated while he was serving in Afghanistan. He spent the next four years of his life trying to recover, and forget the past. Both his injury and PTSD had kept him far away from others, and he struggled with anger and isolation. But one day, he decided to open a package that his fellow Marines had given to him, and it changed everything.
Wrapped in a flag – the same flag that was flown in every location that his section fought while on deployment – were notes from his brothers. Each one had its own message of encouragement and support. As Jose read each message, he had a change of heart. The formerly antisocial and angry man chose to move forward.
Jose decided to carry that flag, with the names and the through the entirety of this year’s Boston Marathon; a move to remind himself – and the community – what was worth fighting for.
“I wanted to fly the flag in their honor, for everyone’s sacrifice. It’s not for me, it’s for everyone that’s here fighting – day in and day out,” he said.
Sanchez finished the race in just 5 hours, 21 minutes, 56 seconds.
“It’s not for me, it’s for others to be inspired, to be motivated,” he told reporters after catching his breath. “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.”
Jose is the picture of American Grit – that when you take the hand you’re dealt and choose to push forward you can accomplish anything. Whether it’s a marathon or a mental hurdle, giving up is not an option.
Share this article with someone you know who needs a reminder to keep pushing! Watch his full interview after the race below: