LOUISVILLE, Ky. — They are traveling thousands of miles with the names and faces of fallen heroes on their backs.
Active and retired military members and first responders are on a mission, traveling across the country and honoring those who have died in the line of duty or taken too soon. It’s called “Carry the Load,” and on their way to Dallas, one group made a stop in Louisville.
“The least I can do for all these folks is donate my time too,” Miguel Sarmiento told Spectrum News 1 during a stop at Cave Hill National Cemetery.
Sarmiento is a retired Dallas police officer and Air Force veteran. He is on a cross-country trek that started in Minneapolis and he isn’t traveling alone. Pinned to his ruck sack are the names and faces of a friend and fellow Dallas officer who was killed in the line of duty and the son of a cousin killed in action.
“I’m carrying for a classmate in the academy. He was a good friend. He was shot and killed while trying to execute an arrest warrant. And the other young man is my cousin’s son,” Sarmiento explained.
For the entire month of May, he’s been making his way south.
“We’re trying to bring back the true meaning of Memorial Day and we’re hoping that Memorial Day is not just one day that it’s every day of the year and we never forget our loved ones.”
Every year "Carry the Load" volunteers travel the country memorializing the names of first responders and armed forces members killed in the line of duty, lost to suicide or otherwise taken too soon. They start in April and end in Dallas on Memorial Day.
“We start in Minneapolis. We’ll cover 3,900 miles, our Midwest team. We have five teams. Between all five teams all over the U.S., we’ll cover the entire 48 states,” Sarmiento said.
At each stop, local supporters join the cause walking for as long as they can. While in Louisville, Maggie Edwards and her active-duty husband joined the walk through Cave Hill. Edwards pinned three names to a shirt.
“Three of my husband’s battle buddies. One was lost to suicide and two to drunk drivers. Happy to carry them today,” Edwards told Spectrum News 1.
Thousands of miles traveled among hundreds of volunteers, spread out across the country, and each step is a reminder of a sacrifice and loss that should never be forgotten.
“‘Carry The Load” culminates with the Dallas Memorial March, where thousands of supporters are expected to walk the historic Katy Trail.