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Relay Marchers Set Out To “Reclaim” Memorial Day

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – At Arlington National Cemetery and across the United States on this Memorial Day, Americans paused to remember the high price of freedom. Some 30,000 people participated in a relay called “Carry the Load”.

The relay started in West Point, New York to Dallas in honor of true American heroes.

A CBS 11 News crew was at Reverchon Park where the 27-day, 2,000-mile march came to an end Monday.

The tents and flags have been packed away, but organizers believe the impact from the march is just beginning. They’re raising money for charity, but the primary goal has always been to ‘reclaim’ Memorial Day.

Military wife and mother Hollie Serna said, “The first year we came out here, we knew this is where we need to be.”

Serna’s flag-loving heart isn’t limited to her sleeve. Her t-shirt featured pictures of her sons. “This is my son in Norfolk, Virginia… he just joined the Navy in January. This is him,” she said pointing to another son standing beside her. “He just retired last weekend… 21 years in the Navy. This is my oldest son. He’s down there in a tent. He’s Army eight years.”

The Serna family now makes Carry the Load the cornerstone of Memorial Day… a day set aside to honor the nation’s fallen.

“You tend to think that the whole patriotic thing is owned by one side of the aisle and it’s not. We’re all patriotic in our own way,” said James Davis, who walked 30 miles. “And that’s what today is all about. You see all kinds of different people. Every time I felt like I was in pain, I’d see a Vietnam Vet in front of me just chugging away and it’s like… what am I complaining about?”

The 2,000-mile relay began in New York and wrapped up in Dallas with fanfare to spare.

Carry the Load benefits a variety of non-profit groups some that help injured and fallen service members and their families.

Co-founder Clint Bruce says the march touches many others as well. “When you walk next to someone who’s a 62-year-old hedge fund manager that could be at any one of their homes but they’re not. They’re here and they’ve been walking for 16 hours. You can’t believe that that guy doesn’t care, anymore, because he’s out here.”

Veterans like Clyde Serna say the method and the message are making an impact. “I really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.”

Organizers say this year’s march raised roughly $1.5 million for charity and they expect next year’s march to be bigger and better. Bruce said, “That’s just how we do it in Texas.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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