Dallas Memorial March culminates Carry The Load weekend

Carry The Load Memorial Day events

A gathering spot of more than one-thousand people with sneakers, flags, kids and pets isn't the typical forum to share grief.  

But then again, there is nothing typical about Carry The Load, which culminated over a month of rallies in cities across the country with the Dallas Memorial March on Sunday.

The 20 hour, 17 minute march through Reverchon Park and parts of Uptown Dallas concluded with a moment of silence and the playing of taps on Monday afternoon.

We found some walkers who covered more than 60 miles to help raise awareness for non-profits that help support servicemen and women, police, fire and first responders.

Cindy Elder has been attending every year since Carry The Load started with just a handful of walkers around White Rock Lake in 2011.

"This is just the best way to show our total appreciation for our freedoms and sacrifices they've made," Elder said.

The pace of walkers by late Monday morning was deliberate and labored.  Even if you didn't hear who they were carrying for, their stories were visible in the sweat and dedication to keep walking.

Andres Otano told WFAA he has lost several fellow military brothers over the decades, but the loss of his close friend retired Army major Anthony (Tony) Analla from a sudden heart attack in February compelled him to walk through the night this year.

“When I’m walking around and I feel like my feet are hurting, I see a wheelchair go by, I see someone who doesn’t have legs and I get my pack a little tighter, that’s the inspiring thing," Otano said.

Aurora Flores-Fernandez has seen plenty of remembrances and ceremonies since she lost her son in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008, but this Gold Star mother says nothing has compared to her first trip this weekend to Dallas.

"This is amazing," Aurora Flores-Fernandez said walking Sunday. "I’d never been so I didn’t realize.  I knew there was going to be a lot of people but I didn’t know it was going to be this many people."

Army staff Sgt. Reuben Fernandez was just 22 years old when a convoy he was traveling in was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED) in the roadway in Majar Al Kabir, Iraq.

"People this weekend have walked up to us, wanting to know more about his story," she said. "You know, it's more real."

Aaron White has served on the committee that organizes the Dallas Memorial March since Carry The Load started back in 2011.

He says he walks for all the servicemen and women who never made it home and are still missing.

"Carry The Load is an opportunity for us to get out here and really make it hurt and really feel the pain,” White said. “It helps us heal, it helps us deal with the grind of these veterans not returning home.”

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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