Memorial Day relay goes virtual to honor lost veterans and first responders

Charlotte Reese
May 24, 2020 - 12:14 pm
The nonprofit Carry the Load schedules cross-country walks on Memorial Day to honor the fallen, but this year, COVID-19 has them taking their events online.

Courtesy of Yardley Borough Mayor Chris Harding

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Memorial Day traditions are being changed this year due to coronavirus. But one organization is still carrying on its mission, virtually.

Carry The Load is an organization dedicated to honoring America’s military, veterans and first responders. But due to COVID-19, their biggest event of the year — where they walk and bike from various points to Dallas, Texas — looks a little different.

There’s typically a huge welcoming in Yardley, Bucks County when Carry The Load passes through.

"Unfortunately this year, we had to rework the schedule because of everything that’s going on this year," said Yardley Mayor Chris Harding, an ambassador for the nonprofit since 2014.

He added, "We had the goal this year to walk the entire stretch of Pennsylvania with Carry The Load, which would be from Washington Crossing to essentially almost down the airport, right before they enter Delaware." That walk would have totaled 60 miles.

"Last year, we did essentially 40 miles, so we went from Washington Crossing to Independence Hall straight with 22-pound backpacks on their backs in memorial of the 22 veterans who essentially lose their life every day to suicide," Harding recounted.

The mayor hopes they can schedule a walk later this year in honor of Carry The Load.

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This weekend, four relays would be ending in Dallas, Texas with their annual Dallas Memorial March.

Matt Fryman, the organization's national relay director, said this would have been the biggest year yet.

"We would've been walking and cycling from West Point, New York, Seattle, Washington, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Minot, North Dakota, all the way to Dallas," he said.

According to Fryman, the organization's goal is to restore the true meaning of Memorial Day.

"Bringing back the fact that there are men and woman who gave their lives for our freedom. Trying to take it back away from the start of summer, mattress sales or whatever that may have been," he explained.

"We have loved ones that we have lost," he continued. "We're able to carry on their names and their legacies, what they've done, and share those stories so their memories never die."

Since this year is virtual, Fryman recommended people share ways they are honoring America’s heroes on social media.

"We've had people sing songs, just kind of in remembrance of them. Do chalk art with their kids," he said. "The list is really limitless and it’s only limited by what you feel is meaningful to you."

A Dallas Memorial Drive is happening Monday.