Healing, Surviving, Thriving

Hundreds of runners are about to toe the line at the 2014 Army Ten Miler, to honor the service and sacrifice of the American Military. Each runner has a different reason for choosing blue. Below, Augusta, Georgia wear blue meet-up lead Joe Matosian shares his story:

I’ve been running the Army Ten Miler for almost fourteen years and always look forward to my annual trek from Augusta, Georgia, to my old stomping grounds in Washington, D.C.  As a career Army employee, I have always loved the United States military and races associated with the military.  I even love the race expos, especially when I make new friends as I did at the ATM Expo in 2013 when I was introduced to wear blue: run to remember.  In the case of the Army Ten Miler, it’s not only the race that excites me, but even more so the opportunity to visit family and friends.  And then there’s the dinner: the pre-race dinner when all of the family and close running friends gather to share in a homemade pasta feast complements of my mother-in-law, a full-blooded Italian, who makes spaghetti sauce to die for.  It’s always a time of laughter and light hearted fun, a mini-family reunion; one of the highlights of the year.

However, this year will be different.  This year my in-laws sold their house in Falls Church, VA and moved to Augusta, as did my brother and sister-in-law.  My daughter and son-in-law also moved back home from Charleston, SC.  Life was good with all of them living either under our roof or just down the road.  And then it began.  In April of this year, our world was shaken by the loss of my father-in-law.  Just a few weeks later it was shattered by the tragic death of my son-in-law.  They were two of the greatest men I’ve ever known and each had an immeasurable impact on my world and that of my family.

My journey to DC this year will be different.  This year there will be no big family pre-race dinner in DC, no gathering around the dining room table sharing stories and laughter, no comfortable stay in the home my in-laws lived in for decades and raised their children in.  It’s all just memories now.  It’s more than surreal.

Despite all of the darkness and grief that’s plagued my family this year, I’ve found a beacon of hope – a beacon that shines bright in a dark world, a beacon of blue.  Throughout all of the heartaches,  I have had the support of the wear blue community.  Across the country they’ve reached out to me, given me hope, loved me, encouraged me and demonstrated in their own positive, life-affirming way that I’m not alone in this journey.  I’ve found a community that understands loss and healing.  A community made up of caring individuals that have become more like family.  As I helped organize our local Memorial Day wear blue event this year, I realized how powerful the running community is for dealing with life’s highs and lows.  Family and friends near and far rallied to support the event, to support my family and to honor the service and sacrifice of the American military.  It was powerfully healing.

Starting this year, I will begin a new tradition, a deeply meaningful one.  When I travel to D.C. this year I will be there to run for something much larger than myself.  I will be there to run for those who can’t, for those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, for our nation’s warriors and their families.  I will proudly wear blue and run in honor of my father-in-law (Sam Costanzo), a Korean War veteran, my son-in-law (Eryc Riddle), a devoted husband and friend, and I will most assuredly run in honor of all of the fallen, the fighting, and the families that served and continue to serve our great nation with honor and distinction.