Carry the load



Staff at the Culpeper National Cemetery unveiled a new plaque Monday morning in an effort to support the Carry the Load Foundation and continue to honor all veterans that gave the ultimate sacrifice.

The Carry The Load is a non-profit dedicated to providing active, meaningful ways to honor and celebrate the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes — military, veterans, first responders and their families. Members of the foundation are on a mission to visit 26 national cemeteries on their way to Dallas, Texas.

Matthew Priest, Director of Culpeper, Winchester, Staunton, and Balls Bluff National Cemeteries, said the plaque honors all soldiers who have fallen, but specifically mentioned Cameron Thomas, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2017. Thomas’ family was present for the unveiling.

Culpeper is one of 136 national cemeteries in the U.S., and Carry The Load has been visiting many of them to restore the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Founded in 2011 by two Veteran Navy SEALs Carry The Load began as a 20 hour and 11 minute Memorial March in Dallas. In 2012, it expanded to include an East Coast Relay, walking from West Point, NY to Dallas, throughout the month of May. The relay leg captains walk in 5 mile increments carrying the American flag to bring awareness to the sacrifices of our nation’s heroes. In 2016, Carry The Load expanded by adding a West Coast route from Seattle, WA to Dallas, TX to help engage Americans throughout the country. In 2019, Carry The Load expanded once again by adding a Midwest route from Minneapolis, Minn. to Dallas.

Ambassador Stacy James, a U.S. Air Force veteran, thanked the public for coming out and supporting the mission.

“When they (veterans) pass, they die once, but when they are forgotten they die twice,” James said. “No one shoudl have to die twice.”

The plaque at the annex at the national cemetery reads: “In honor of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to the United States of America and the families left behind. The sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

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