Restoring the True Meaning of Memorial Day
Carry the Load's 6,600-Mile Relay Remembers Fallen Heroes
Chase is a supporting partner of the Carry the Load.
To many, Memorial Day means a day off, picnics, and the promise of summer. But to the brave men and women who sacrificed greatly for their country, some giving all? That's what the holiday is truly about, and a young nonprofit called Carry the Load is doing their part to remind us of that fact.
Stephen Holley and Clint Bruce, both former Navy SEALs, established Carry the Load in 2011 to give people an opportunity to remember the cost of freedom and reconnect with the true meaning of Memorial Day.
For Joshua Davis, a former Army Field Artillery Officer, Memorial Day means reflecting on the courage of the 13 members of his West Point 2004 graduating class who gave their lives. "They served with distinction and made the ultimate commitment to their country," says Davis, a risk management associate at JPMorgan Chase who also serves as the co-chair of the Voices of Employees That Served, or VETS, Business Resource Group (BRG). "A nation that has been at war for 13 years means not a corner is untouched by loss," he says.
Honoring Those Who Serve
When Davis met Bruce and learned about Carry the Load's work, he was moved by the group's mission to recognize not only fallen service members, but also the firefighters, law enforcement officers and rescue personnel who kept the homeland safe after 9/11—and who are still committed to that mission while many members of our military serve abroad. Davis was inspired to initiate a partnership between Carry the Load and Chase, which is currently the lead sponsor of the National Relay, a month-long event spanning 6,600 miles. "In the spirit of the organization's goals and Chase's ongoing efforts with veterans, it was a good match," says Davis.
Since its founding, Carry the Load has hosted rallies, memorial marches and its national relay leading up to Memorial Day Monday that kicks off at West Point in the East and Seattle in the West before ending in Dallas over Memorial Day weekend. Davis was humbled to be selected as the National Relay Chair in 2015 and again this year. "It gives people an opportunity to honor someone, to walk in support or pride, or for some, simply to account for those who serve."
Looking Back, Looking Ahead: The Remembrance Campaign
It was hard to miss the Carry the Load group outside Chase's headquarters building in New York on the morning of April 29, 2015, when a crowd of approximately 100 shouted a collective “Carry the Load!" as a photographer captured the memory. Davis joined them after walking through the night from West Point.
Along the route from midtown Manhattan to the One World Trade Center building, new participants joined the walk spontaneously; the crowd making its way through Manhattan's busy streets. "To be visible on this scale in a city like New York is just phenomenal," says Davis.
While the New York leg of the relay is an exciting and moving experience, it's not accessible to all, so Carry The Load has added a West Coast route. And for those far from the relay routes, Chase's microsite will feature a sidebar that links out to the names of service members who have fallen since 2001. The call to action: Dedicate any activity (either a run, walk, or workout) to a member on the list.
Encourage everyone in your circle of friends, colleagues and relatives to share their remembrances on social media using #CarryTheLoad. Celebrate the brave person who secured your freedom, and in the process, sacrificed his own. Ask a co-worker to walk with you in honor of a courageous individual who left her family behind in order to keep yours safe. Make this Memorial Day mean something more than a day off.
To learn more about how you can help or participate, visit Carry The Load.org.
Michelle Seitzer is a freelance writer whose content has appeared on USNews.com, ReadersDigest.com, HuffingtonPost.com and AARP.org.