Memorial Day for many means a day off and the start of summer fun, but one group is touring the United States to draw attention to the holiday’s true spirit.
Carry the Load is a group of walkers, hikers and bikers and who make an approximately 15,000-mile trek meant to remember fallen veterans and first responders, according to David Lindsey, the group’s East Coast relay manager.
Founded in 2011 by former Navy Seals Clint Bruce and Stephen Holley, the group has expanded its efforts over the years and now leads four flag relays throughout the United States, with plans to expand in the future.
On Monday, the group stopped outside the Kohl’s in Hollymead to spread the word, meeting with locals and media before continuing the rest of their hike. The approximately 64-mile hike Monday saw the group begin in Brandy Station and was expected to end in Keswick.
According to Lindsey, the group’s mission is simple but crucial: remind people of the meaning of Memorial Day and raise funds for the 40 charities that fall under Carry the Load’s banner.
“One of the things we’re trying to do more is get in touch with people, communities, police departments, fire departments and the military veterans about the work we do and how they can help,” Lindsey said. “When we first started this, we just tried to get people down the road — get the flag and move from one point to another — but now we’re trying to engage people and get the word out about what Carry the Load is and how we can serve those military and first responder families.”
In his role, Lindsey is tasked with traveling with a staff of 10 and various walkers from West Point, New York, to Dallas in a month-long trek set to end on Memorial Day.
Everyone walking is carrying the load, so to speak, for a loved one who served, many of whom died, he said.
For Lindsey, that loved one is his cousin, Todd W. Krodle, a firefighter who died in 2011 when he fell through the roof of a burning building in Dallas. In Krodle’s honor, Lindsey and others formed the Krodle Foundation to assist firefighters and their families when they’re harmed or killed in the line of duty. The foundation is now among the 40 charities supported by Carry the Load.
“I’ve been with Carry the Load for nine years, but for the first two years I got off the tour bus and I just walked,” Lindsey said. “Every day, when I put my backpack on and carry the flag down the road, I choose somebody close to me to honor.”
Though Lindsey coordinates the bus part of the route, Chapel Tinius was tasked with being the leg captain for this section of the tour. As leg captain, Tinius said she was in charge of keeping people safe, leading the route and carrying the flag.
Though in her first year as a relay leader, Tinius said she felt well prepared and was thrilled with the response the group had gotten so far. Like the others involved with Carry the Load, Tinius was walking with loved ones in mind.
“I originally came out here to remember those who served with my grandfathers in World War II,” she said. “My Papa was one of the lucky ones who was able to come home, but he lost a lot of friends. Along the way, we’ve met a lot of really cool people and I’ve added on to that, remembering brothers, sisters, friends who have been lost.”