WICHITA, Kan (KSNW) – For more than a decade, Carry the Load has had one mission: to restore the true meaning of Memorial Day.
What started as a march honoring our fallen soldiers has grown into an event honoring all of our nation’s heroes. The march began May 6 in Minneapolis, and 3,800 miles later, it stopped in Wichita.
“A nonprofit organization that started in 2010 by two Navy Seals down in Dallas, Steve Holly, Clint Bruce,” Tom Wendling, participant, said.
Wendling said the two were disgusted with how Memorial Day was being portrayed.
“There’s nothing wrong with picnics and everything, but maybe take five minutes to recognize why you can have a picnic,” Wendling said.
That’s when one of the nonprofit’s organizers grabbed a bag and filled it with a brick for every buddy he lost and started walking.
“Veteran walked up to him and says, ‘hey, son, who you carrying for?’ And that’s how the name got started,” Wendling said.
Now, there are five relays across 48 participating states carrying the load.
“One of the things we do out here is very important. We carry for someone,” Wendling said. “As you can see on my back right here today, I’ll be carrying for Capt. Erk out of Wichita.”
He carries to remember and honor those who gave their lives for others.
“I can tell you the stories, it’s tough. Every so far, we’ve stopped at three veteran cemeteries and talk to those mothers who had to bury their children. It’s humbling, the fact, that they’ve given the ultimate sacrifice,” Wendling said.
Friday morning, the team walked from the Andover fire station to the Warren East Theatre. The group ended at the Eastgate Shopping Center. The journey will continue to Tulsa before returning to Dallas.