Memorial Day is still a couple of weeks away, but volunteers want to spread the word about the true meaning of the holiday.
We met with a group named Carry The Load, who are on a relay trek traveling through the U.S. with the names of fallen heroes on their backs.
Carry the Load has five teams relaying through 48 states, spanning roughly 20,000 miles, to help connect Americans to the sacrifices of our military, veterans and their families.
Each relay team starts at a different point in the U.S.
Tuesday, the group that started in Seattle made their way through Minot on a 4.7-mile journey from the Roosevelt Park Zoo to the Minot Rural Fire Department, as they continue to head toward their final destination.
The relay team walks and cycles daily throughout the 32-day Memorial May campaign, where people of all ages can join.
The teams will end their journey in Dallas on Memorial Day weekend.
“Carry the Load is just an opportunity to walk and talk and be able to you know, who are you carrying? Who you are carrying has such significance in the sense that there are many that have made sacrifices, and so those people, we want to make sure that we carry their memories and their legacies with us and be able to honor the fact that they gave their lives so that we could live in the country that we do, and have the freedoms that we do,” said Matt Fryman, national director for Carry the Load.
Fryman was inspired to join the organization because of his father who was in the Air Force for years.
He said that he was never in the military, but always looked up to his father, and was excited to be a part of something bigger than himself.
According to the group’s website, the nonprofit was formed in 2011 after a U.S Navy SEAL returned from post-9/11 active duty.
At a barbecue on Memorial Day, they saw their friends and family enjoying the day off work but noticed that nobody was paying attention to the meaning of the holiday.
That feeling led the veteran to embark on a 24-hour march around Dallas, which eventually led to the national relay.
“When we started we had a little Winnebago, just the three of us. It was crazy, people thought we were nuts. And then the next year we got one of these busses and we just kept walking and people just kept coming and coming, and their stories… So it’s all about the people. and its the grieving. You know it’s a great way for them to know that their daughter, son, husband, wife is remembered,” said Dill Driscoll, volunteer for Carry the Load.
Driscoll said that he has met so many incredible people throughout his journey, from senators and governors to police and fire chiefs.
He said he will never forget meeting 9/11 victims in New York City, and walking down Madison Avenue with 2,000 participants to the 9/11 memorial.
Driscoll said that he can not believe how big the event has gotten over the past 10 years.
Since its inception, the organization has raised over $30 million.
This year alone, they met their goal of $2 million with two weeks to spare.
“Families come out and they want us to carry their loved ones. And we are able to remember, their sons or their daughters, and it means so much to them, and it means so much to us to be able to carry those loved ones to Dallas,” said Fryman.
Above all else, members of Carry the Load said the most impactful part of their organization is being able to hear all of the stories from all across the nation.
They hope to inspire patriotism and educate people about the American flag and the sacrifices made to honor it.
The organization will travel to Bismarck tonight to continue its journey.
Money raised from their cross-country venture goes toward things like counseling, job placements and scholarships.