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Nonfiction in response to Peace, Justice and Strong Insitution
April 2019

Iditarod: A Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive event

By Grace Muresan

In its 16th goal, The United Nations promotes the idea of peaceful and inclusive societies as the foundation to achieve sustainable development for humanity and its livelihood worldwide. One way to achieve such inclusivity is by realizing that we live as a community. That means, despite our differences in background, ethnic origins, religions, genders, sexual orientations, and different opinions, we all want the same thing, a “good” life, as one would consider it. I thought that the Iditarod race was a good example of a way to develop a sense of community awareness and remember an important event, but I personally doubt the humanity of the race nowadays, for the sake of the dogs.

The Iditarod race is a sled dog race that takes place every March in Alaska. The race is over 1150 miles on an icy route from the city Anchorage to the city Nome.

The first race was commenced in the winter of 1925. At that time, the city of Nome was plagued with diphtheria. It was an isolated city, located on the edge of the Bering Sea in Northwest Alaska, just South of the Arctic Circle. People were desperate and children were dying. Dr. Curtis Welch, the only physician in the city, ordered a quarantine and antitoxin serum, which he had run out of, to ward off the highly infectious disease. But the only way to save the people of Nome was to transport the only available antidote 674 miles across the land from Nenana (near Anchorage) to Nome. The winter was very bad with plenty of snowstorms and below freezing temperature, making it impossible for airplanes to fly the antidote to the city.

The people of Nome got together and decided that sled dogs were the only ones who could help the city deliver the antidote for the dying children, as planes couldn’t be flown in winter and snowmobiles had not yet been invented. The territory’s governor, Scott C. Bone, sent the best drivers (mushers) and dog teams to do an around-the-clock relay to transport the serum from Nenana to Nome. Twenty teams of mushers and over 100 dogs participated in the relay to deliver the medicine to Nome in about 5 1/2 days. In the end, four dogs died from exposure, but all of the sick children lived.

Since 1973, the Iditarod race, or the ‘Last Great Race’, has been held every year as a reminder of the determination and sacrifice that strangers (the mushers and their beloved sled dogs) have made for other strangers, in the name of humanity.

Events like the Iditarod race held within a community to celebrate a time when people worked together peacefully for a cause are very important. The race itself specifically brought back a sport/form of transportation no longer common where it had once been absolutely necessary. If such events like the Iditarod race are held in more places, then maybe we would be able to live in more peaceful and inclusive societies.

What’s your event?

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