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Carry the Load

I had no idea that when I stepped out on my walking trail this morning, I would have such a visceral experience.

It is Sunday morning and being in the Texas heat is something you prepare for. Armed with my phone and a water bottle, I start out on my four mile walk.  What I am not prepared for, what smacks me in the center of my chest is this:

These signs were every few feet on the trail. And they took hold of me in a real way.  As I stop to read each sign and take photos, Memorial Day has taken on true meaning for me. The signs display the age of the person, their hometown, the year they died, and a short blurb on what happened and who this individual was in a personal way.

I keep seeing people walk by, never looking up at these huge posters. I feel like going up to each one of them and saying, “These people matter! They went to battle for you and me! Most of them died young- take a moment and look!”

Perhaps, they have already looked. Perhaps they also have someone they loved and cared about who died in battle. But I’m not sure.

Carry The Load is a non-profit dedicated to providing active, meaningful ways to honor and celebrate the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes — military, law enforcement, firefighters and first responders.

What started as a mission to restore the true meaning of Memorial Day has broadened to include more than just our military heroes and more than just the one holiday. Carry The Load works to bring all Americans together to participate in honoring our nation’s heroes every day.

It’s most noteworthy and ambitious project lasts a month-long with a 100k relay that begins on the North East Coast and North West Coast of the US. As the relay progresses, it  moves downward and ends in Dallas, Texas on Memorial Day with a big rally in Reverchon Park. Men and women literally carry items-backpacks, armor, fire extinguishers (I met a woman who was wearing this for a firemen she served with) to represent and honor those who have lost their lives in service.

I’ve never heard of this until moving to Dallas, where its headquarters is based. This non-profit has continuum care for those who have been in service. Please watch this video on their website to see how big of an impact this event is.

There is a small path that winds through a grove of trees on the side of Katy Trail. The wooded area had music piped in and a long row of big posters lined along the way. I stop and read and the tears come-for the young lives given in service, for the mothers and fathers and spouses and children left without a son, a daughter, a spouse or a parent.

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Memorial Day means different things to different people: a day off, fireworks and a cookout perhaps. But let’s never forget what the real meaning of it is-to Carry the Load of reverence and remembrance for those who are not here in this physical plane. Let us say a prayer of hope and thankfulness.

Here is my Memorial Day Poem. I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico and drove by a military cemetery each day:

Prisoners of War

I drive by each day on my way to work,
White marble masts rising up from the green rolling waves.
There is a sea of them rising up the hill, 
spilling over to newly plowed earth.

It is winter.
My heart feels no beat.
Words frozen upon these pale lips,
Frozen as those beneath the snow of winter’s first blush.

Not until I drive upon the winding road, stop
and walk among the rows of faceless names,
my high heels sinking slightly in the moist ground, 
do I feel a tugging in my chest
of what has been done for the name of freedom.

And those names begin to thaw my heart and conscience,
Running into tears for families I do not know.
Mothers losing their sons, 
wives and husbands letting go of their beloved’s hand,
children left with half a home as their legacy.

Today there was another procession honoring the dead,
flags flown half mast, 
taps gently played as the box is cradled into darkness.

I stop my car along the road, watch and weep. 

Victoria Yeary

 

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4 thoughts on “Carry the Load”

  1. TOUCHING………I know what you mean!!! I lived in San Diego and was able to go WELCOME HOME some of the returning soldiers from Vietnam……….I will NEVER for get that experience!!! Your poem is remarkable!

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