Veterans group walks as reminder of purpose for Memorial Day

A special veterans support organization was in Austin on Tuesday for a stop at the State Capitol. 

The group called "Carry the Load" is doing a month-long, cross-country march to Dallas, where a big Memorial Day event will be held.

The local volunteers joined a core group that has been walking since May 2.

"The Carry the Load West Coast relay team will walk about 4,400 miles, from Seattle all the way to Dallas. And we're just one of five teams. So, there are four other teams across the country that are putting in the miles, and collectively we'll go over about 20,000 miles," said team leader Colton Morrow.

About 200 employees from JPMorgan Chase, a co-sponsor of the Austin event, took part in a roughly three-mile journey from South Austin. They walked along the hike and bike trail across Lady Bird Lake to downtown Austin. It was done as part of an effort to refocus on the true meaning of Memorial Day.

"Everybody does it in a little bit different way. And I think that people being able to experience this and learn from others and how they remember the fallen and remember those who have served, both who are still with us today and those who have fallen during battle," said David Brewton, with JPMorgan Chase.

For some, each step is personal. Attached to their backs were the names of friends and family who made the ultimate sacrifice. Nikie Lunday said she was thinking of her grandfather and uncle as she made the walk through town.

"I was, I can't even imagine the experiences that they had when they were in the Army and served overseas," said Lundy.


The group walked up Congress and crossed 11th to the south steps of the State Capitol for a rally. Since 2011, the organization has raised more than $402 million, with most of the money going to care programs.

"We have 50 nonprofit partners that partner with us, and they go and do the work. So, they give veteran assistance for counseling, scholarships for kids, all different kinds of programs for veterans and first responders. Those nonprofit partners, you know, do the groundwork for getting the help that people need," said Morrow. 

The walk is also for first responders. Olivia Terry is honoring her father, a firefighter who died in the line of duty in 2017.

"This is I mean, everything. I mean, it's so important just to remember, you know, the people that we've lost and to talk with others and kind of just start that healing," said Terry.

The rally wrapped up with a traditional rifle volley and taps.

"The families of the people that have made the ultimate sacrifice. I get up every morning, and they put on their shoes, and they go to work, and they do their thing. So, the least we can do is come out and do a little walking," said Morrow. 

Once in Dallas, Carry the Load will hold a two-day march starting Sunday, May 26, and continuing on Monday. 

Here in Austin, those who want to help prepare for Memorial Day can help place flags at grave sites in the state cemetery. That work will take place on Saturday, May 25, at 9 a.m. Those who want to volunteer are asked to bring gloves and a screwdriver to make holes for the flag sticks.