DETROIT – An image of a U.S. Marine veteran crawling across the finish line at the Boston Marathon captured the attention of millions of people.
The picture shows the man crawling across the finish line after his legs collapsed. The proud veteran was running in honor of his fallen comrades.
“I describe myself as a runner,” said veteran Aaron Bartal.
It is something Bartal loves doing. His passion for running started while serving as a soldier in the army from 2003-2006.
“War is war. There are a lot of things that go on, but I am proud of my service. I would go back and do it again,” said Bartal.
But now he has a greater role. He participated in several marathons in Metro Detroit with his flag right behind him.
“I want to keep the memory of the fallen alive because it is not just about Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, or Veterans Day in November. I feel by running and carrying the ‘Never Forgotten’ flag, we can raise awareness. Freedom is not free, and we should talk about our heroes every day,” said Bartal.
Bartal said he understands that marine at the Boston Marathon whole heartedly.
“So I carry this red and white flag. It says 'never forgotten,' and it has a kneeling soldier in front of a battle cross, and that’s to raise awareness,” said Bartal.
“I call it a life changing race. People who do this race are doing it for a reason,” said Barbara Bennage with the Detroit Free Press-Chemical Bank Marathon. “We are an international race, we cross borders twice. We start in Detroit and we cross the Ambassador Bridge into Canada.”
Meanwhile Bartal said he is happy to use the platform to shed light on what means the most to him and that is the fallen veterans who paid the ultimate price.
“It’s not about me. It is about those who aren’t with us,” said Bartal.
This year’s Detroit Free Press Marathon will be held in October. If you want to register visit freepmarathon.com