For many veterans and first-responders, service to the country comes at a price. The unseen wounds of war and trauma are carried for many years. One organization hopes to change that by carrying the load for these veterans of trauma.
Carry The Load is a nonprofit dedicated to honoring and remembering the sacrifices of this nation’s military members and first responders. While they have programs throughout the year, the focus is on the month of May leading up to Memorial Day. During May two separate teams, both East and West Coast, will carry an American flag across the country, ending in Dallas on Memorial Day weekend.
“When we get to Dallas it will kick off a 20 minute, 17 second relay,” member Matt Reid said. Reid has volunteered with Carry The Load for years. “This is the sixth year of the national relay.”
Young volunteers participate by carrying the flag through both urban and rural America. Each team member will walk a minimum of two hours, or just over five miles, per day. Some will walk more than that.
“I’ll walk from six to eight pm, then get a two hour break for dinner, then walk until midnight” said team member Landon Rowe. As Rowe prepared for his walk by taping his feet, his teammates explained why they participate with Carry the Load.
“My dad is a Vietnam veteran and I know he lost a lot of good guys over there and a lot of his friends, so I’m carrying his load and his grief that he’s carried since he’s been back” said Ginger Horton.
Shannon Kehoe echoed the sentiment. “This is the best way I could find to give back to my family and carry their loads.”
Reid explained why young college students, with no military experience, have dedicated to carrying a US flag across the country. “They represent a generation that has lost the true meaning of Memorial Day.”
As Rowe finished taping his feet he added, “my grandfather and his twin brother are both Korean War veterans…I felt it was really important for me to pay it forward and stand up for what I knew is right.”
Carry The Load continues the march through both coasts and will end their mission at Reverchon Park in Dallas, TX, on May 28. The team members encourage participation from the public both during the relay march and in Dallas.
“You don’t have to give anything, just come and give your time and walk,” Collin Vickers said. “Carry the flag, carry whatever load you want to carry.”