Memorial Day is only a month out and my mind is already turning on a regular basis to those who so willingly risk their lives for yours and mine. God knows that the last few weeks, with first responders putting so much on the line in Boston and West, that the images of their bravery and sacrifice have been clearer than ever.
In my new job I've also had the opportunity to interact with many armed service members of every branch. With every current service member and veteran I meet, I am more impressed by the love they have for this country. A love that compels them to put themselves between us and our enemies.
In the midst of those thoughts about the debt we owe those men and women, I found out about Carry The Load through one of the organizers, and a decorated former Navy SEAL officer, Clint Bruce. I immediately decided I wanted to take part in the event and help carry the load for those who protect and defend us.
Carry The Load is a non-profit organization helping people celebrate a meaningful Memorial Day by conducting a 20-hour event that honors veterans and active duty service members, law enforcement officers, firefighters and their families.
Through event participation and sponsorship, CTL raises money to support their 2013 beneficiaries: Assist The Officer, Heroes On The Water, Friends of Dallas Fire-Rescue, Tip Of The Spear Foundation and Sons of the Flag Burn Foundation.
What I'm doing
I've pledged to take part in the 20 hour march, carrying the load, on Memorial Day and helping raise money to support the charities listed above. I'm raising money individually and also as part of the ITS Tactical team. Every dollar raised goes directly to supporting those men and women who risk so much for us.
Who I'm "Carrying"
As I watched some of the videos from last year and thought about who I wanted to "carry" (like who you would walk for in Relay for life), a lot of possibilities came to mind but in the end, I decided on 5 individuals that I know personally.
- Grant: My cousin Grant just got deployed a few weeks ago. He joined up a couple years ago and it has been an incredible thing to see how he has matured into a strong, caring man who has long desired to defend his country. We got to spend a lot of time together as his deployment drew close and I treasured getting the opportunity to share in his excitement and trepidation as the day came closer. Please keep him in your prayers.
I met these next four guys after Chris Kyle's funeral. The Pub where some friends and I met up to toast Chief Kyle quickly transformed into a SEAL bar as many of his brothers descended. I had the honor of spending the rest of my day getting to know a number of them and contributing the only things I could to their celebration of Chris' life: cigars and beer.
- Jay Redman: "Still in the fight," are the words that best describe Jay. A former SEAL officer, he was shot multiple times while leading his unit on a mission in Iraq. In the ensuing years he's undergone 37 surgeries as part of his recovery from those extensive wounds. While no longer in active military service, he's rededicated his life to serving our country by giving back and supporting his brothers and sisters in arms.
- Mike, Johnny and "Booster": I can't go into much detail about these guys out of respect for their security but these guys blew me away. Two are still active in the SEALS and another is out of the teams but still in sensitive work. The bravery of these guys and the humility they showed was inspiring to say the least. Getting to spend the afternoon with them and their brothers will always be a memory I treasure and inspired me with a much greater desire to seek out ways to support the men and women who serve us.
What you can do
As RedStaters, we love America and I'm proud of the myriad ways we show that love, including through supporting our fighting men and women. I want you to show that support in a few concrete ways as we lead up to Memorial Day:
- Put mental energy into finding ways to show your appreciation for veterans and active service men and women. Whether it's shaking somebody's hand and giving them a direct "thank you," paying for the lunch of a uniformed member you see in line or sending a beer to one you see at a bar. You're not going to take action unless you first put some focus on it.
- Put your money where your mouth is. Talk is cheap and saying "Thank You" only does so much. The organization I'm focusing on is Carry The Load but whether you give to them or somewhere else, please give something other than lip service to show your support.
Come Memorial Day, I'll proudly spend 20 hours carrying the load for Grant, Jay, Mike, Johnny and Booster. It's my hope that you'll join us, either physically or financially, in that effort.