Go to the grocery store and you’ll likely see a sign assuring you that it will be open normal hours on Memorial Day. Turn on the TV and you’ll surely hear a loud voice urging you to take advantage of a Memorial Day sale. If you talk to a stranger about Memorial Day, you’ll probably hear how excited he or she is to have a day off work. None of these things are what Memorial Day is really about and, thankfully, two former Navy SEALs are trying to “restore the true meaning of Memorial Day.”
Clint Bruce, a graduate of the Naval Academy and BUD/S Class 217, came up with the basic idea for Carry the Load after a Memorial Day BBQ left him feeling like he, and his fellow attendees, had drifted too far from the true meaning of the holiday. Fellow Academy grad and SEALStephen Holley came onboard and the first Carry the Load event was launched in Dallas in 2011. It has since grown into one national relay and several smaller, more localized events.
This year’s national Carry the Load relay event started April 29th in West Point, NY, and will wrap up May 25th in Dallas, TX. Broken up into 348 legs, between 1.5 to 19.5 miles each, the relay will cover 2,000 miles. Individuals who would like to join the relay, which is currently on leg 284 in Little Rock, AK, may do so anywhere along the route. (An interactive map of the remaining relay legs can be found here. Just click on the numbered blue dots for the details.)
Once the relay finishes in Dallas, there will be a 20 hour and 14 minute Memorial March, starting Sunday afternoon at 4 and going through to Monday afternoon at 12:14, with opening and closing ceremonies just before and after. The event will take place in Reverchon Park and individuals may join and leave the march anytime during those 20 hours. Details for those who might want to camp out in order to stay for the entire event can be found here.
If the National Relay Event isn’t coming to a town near you, then you might want to take a look at the local Carry the Load events taking place in one of the following locations:
- Mt Pleasant, TX – Friday 5/23 from 11am-1pm, Chamber of Commerce
- Austin, TX – Sunday 5/25 from 6:30am-9:00pm, Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnett
- Phoenix, AZ – Monday 5/26 from 7am-noon, Germann Rd in Chandler
- Clovis, CA – Monday 5/26 starting at 7am, Clovis Hills Community Church
- Tampa, FL – Monday 5/26 from 9-11am, Al Lopez Park
- Ruston, LA – Monday 5/26 from 9:30-11:30am, Argent Pavilion
Participation in all of the events is free. However, you are encouraged to fundraise (suggested amount is $200). If fundraising or walking so many miles isn’t really your thing, you can still volunteer to set up or hand out water, for example. Or you can support someone else by donating to a team or an individual signed up to participate. Donations raised will be used to support Carry the Load as well as national non-profits (T*A*P*S, Snowball Express, Heroes on the Water, and Team Red, White, and Blue) and local non-profits in Dallas, Austin, Tampa, and Ruston.
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