'Carry the Load' completes 1,700-mile march to honor veterans

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on May 27, 2012 at 6:30 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 3:57 PM

DALLAS — A walk around White Rock Lake sparked a simple idea that's grown into a national movement this Memorial Day weekend — walking in the footsteps of our military... carrying their load from West Point, New York to Dallas, Texas.

"Carry the Load" is a 1,700-mile trek that continued through the night until its finale at noon on Monday.

This journey began not with a dash, but a slow, painful walk... especially for U.S. Army Sgt. John Walding.

"I gave a leg for my country," he said. "Might as well show support for those still doing it."

Walding and others are walking to honor those who lost so much more.

"One deployment is going to affect me for the of my life, and that's something these people try to do is realize they've got to carry a load for the guys that have done this," Walding said.

On Sunday, a thousand people kicked off the final leg of this incredible journey that began a month ago when the group began walking from New York.

That trip ends Monday following a 20-hour walk on the Katy Trail in Dallas.

Dozens will pace for hours — back-and-forth — on the 3.5-mile path to honor fallen service members.

"You'll be amazed at how far your body can go," said Carry the Load organizer Stephen Holley.

Many walkers come loaded with gear... and gratitude.

"If I'm going to do something, I might as well go all out," said 19-year-old Connor Crumblish, who was walking 10 miles to honor his brother in the U.S. Naval Academy.

The point is to be uncomfortable. The walk is long. The gear is heavy. The symbolism is clear.

"It's not that much of a sacrifice when you compare it to what some of our families live with," said Carry the Load organizer Coleman Ruiz.

It is a reminder this Memorial Day of so many by simply putting one foot in front of the other.

The group arrived at Reverchon Park in Dallas on Sunday afternoon, cheered on by city and community leaders including Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach, a Navy veteran himself.

WFAA anchor John McCaa also was on hand to pay tribute to the volunteers and the veterans they are marching to honor.

"Carry the Load" will return to Reverchon Park, 3505 Maple Avenue, at noon Monday Monday for a closing celebration that includes family activities, food, and music.

The event is free; donations are welcome.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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