Hoisting photographs of fallen loved ones and donning various military apparel, the participants of the 1,700-mile “Carry the Load” relay-march made their way through southern Montgomery County on Thursday night.
Initial expectations indicated that a , but that notion was shattered when a group of more than 50 people arrived to take part in honoring our men and women in uniform.
“This is by far the biggest group we’ve had on the march,” said Coleman Ruiz, Executive Director of Carry the Load. “This area – Montgomery County and Philadelphia – has been incredibly supportive, and we’re extremely grateful for their effort.”
Ruiz -- a former Navy SEAL who came off active duty in September -- said the goal is to remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, and that the march symbolizes the emotional load that families of the fallen have to endure.
“All of the surviving families that we know of in America, who have lost a loved one in service to their country -- they carry a heavy load every day,” said Ruiz. “We wanted to get out, get on foot, put one foot in front of the other, and recognize the sacrifices that their family members have made.”
The relay began in West Point, New York on May 1, and will reach its end point in Dallas, Texas on May 27. The march is divided into 350 separate five-mile segments, which volunteers then walk until they reach the next relay point.
Thursday night’s portion began at 10 p.m. at the intersection of Philmont Avenue and Red Lion Road in Lower Moreland, and ended five-miles later along Cottman Avenue in Philadelphia. Several items will make the full 1,700-mile journey, including the Carry the Load guidon, which Ruiz proudly carried as his led the group on the march.
The local stretch of the relay was sponsored by Lincoln Financial Distributors, who also supplied a large portion of the march’s participants. Volunteers consisted of residents from both Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, as well as police escorts from the Lower Moreland Police Department and safety escorts from the Second Brigade and Warriors Watch Riders.
All proceeds from sponsorships and donations go to various veterans organizations, including the Snowball Express and the Yellow Ribbon Fund. More information on the march is available at www.carrytheload.org.
Be sure to check back soon, as we'll also be posting video from the march.