The news that Osama bin Laden had been killed brought closure for many Americans.
For Dan Geraghty, it released a flood of memories.
Dan — now a highly regarded English teacher at Staples — spent 11 years in the military.
On June 12 he will run the Lake Placid Half-Marathon. He’ll raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project — a non-profit organization that supports injured combat veterans.
Oh, yeah. He’ll run all 13.2 miles wearing combat boots, and carrying his infantry rucksack.
The boots weigh 5 pounds. The ruck — with gear and water — is another 40.
walk run in the park for Dan.
Before his teaching career, Dan completed parachute training and air assault as a ROTC cadet at Hofstra.
The week he graduated he was commissioned “immediate active duty” as a second lieutenant in the Army infantry.
Dan graduated from US Army Ranger School in 1999. He calls it “the proudest moment of my life.”
He became a platoon leader with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum (and was deployed on a diplomatic exchange program to Chile).
He transitioned to the National Guard — when he was thinking about applying for Special Forces School, his platoon sergeant had said “Either you’re going to marry the Army or your fiancée.” He served until 2006, when he and his wife Kristen decided it was time to focus full-time on being a husband, father and teacher.
“I no longer wear the uniform physically,” Dan — who left the Army with the rank of captain — says. “But for as long as I live, I will wear it mentally.”
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 nears, he wants to give back to the men and women who have sacrificed so much to secure our freedom.
The daring mission to kill bin Laden sparked an intense return to 9/11 for Dan. That day — working on a project for Verizon — he stood below Tower 2 as the 2nd plane hit. He was defeaned by the roar, stunned by the concussion, seared by the heat, and tasted the sour burning of jet fuel fumes in his mouth.
“I felt like the victim of a war crime,” Dan says. “We all truly were. Without the support of my family and friends, I think I would have struggled indefinitely.
“But I survived, and was given a second chance on life. For 10 years, that day has defined my life.”
Dan knows that some wounded veterans will struggle for the rest of their lives. “I believe we owe these men and women our most humble thanks,” he says.
So — after running hard on the roads around here, and training at Crossfit Performance in Fairfield — next month Dan heads to Lake Placid. He has done that marathon before — but in shoes and shorts.
Wearing boots, and carrying a pack, is a definite game-changer.
“A run is one thing,” he says to explain his unique choice of racing attire.
“But just a bit of pain will be my reminder of the great pains they have gone through to support and defend the United States of America.
“I just want to give back,” Dan says. “9/11 has, in many ways, defined my life for 10 years. I think about it every single day.
“By telling my story, by supporting the Wounded Warrior Project, by teaching about the event, I give away — piece by piece. And I no longer have to carry it.”
(To donate to Dan Geraghty’s half-marathon on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project, click here. Click below for a video on the organization’s work.