At the end of the Boston Marathon on Monday, two people created what is already an iconic image: a veteran with a prosthetic leg crossing the finish line as he carries his guide, Andi Marie, over his shoulders, the American flag firmly in her hand.
Earl Granville, a nine-year veteran of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, lost part of his left leg in 2008 when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. But Granville’s injury hasn’t stopped him from riding a hand bike in several marathons, including those in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and New York.
This time around, Granville took to the course without his bike, prompting bystanders to come up to him for hugs and thank him. “I don’t know what they’re inspired about,” Granville said in a Facebook Live broadcast at mile 16. “I’m walking.”
At some point he picked up his guide, in a move that inspired photographers. And when he posted a final report on his Facebook page, his humble demeanor continued. “So, apparently I did something today,” Granville wrote. “Thank you everybody for your support. I’ll post more during this week…but until then, once again, thanks for all the encouragement. I’m so very grateful.”
Fans and commenters were inspired by Granville’s gesture, and a video posted by WCVB has garnered nearly 7 million views and counting.
“The human spirit is alive and well, what a triumphant moment for these two — and in turn, all of us,” one commenter wrote. “This is what Boston Strong is all about! Great sportsmanship and humanity,” wrote another.
Granville is an outspoken advocate of mental health awareness, particularly regarding PTSD, and his bold marathon finish served as yet another breakthrough for veterans. “Thanks to Earl Granville for showing the Boston Marathon what veterans of the Pennsylvania National Guard can do,” Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors said on Facebook.
Amid all of the talk of inspiration, Granville was sure to maintain a sense of humor, pointing out that his guide didn’t need to be picked up.
“We were just having a bit of fun,” wrote Andi Marie, the guide. “That’s Andi and me in the video. She guided me the whole way,” Granville confirmed. “She didn’t need to be picked up, it’s an inside joke.”
Granville’s marathon finish is an inspiration to many who say it “reminds America of what we are made of.”
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