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Carry The Load: 10th anniversary honoring our nation's heroes passes through San Diego

'Carry The Load' started as a mission to restore the meaning of Memorial Day, but it has grown to be about all of America’s heroes more than just once a year.

SAN DIEGO — Carry The Load, a nonprofit that provides active ways to connect Americans to the sacrifices of our nation’s military, veterans, first responders and their families, started in 2011 as a grassroots effort by two Veteran U.S. Navy SEALs who felt like the nation had forgotten the meaning of Memorial Day. 

A decade later, Carry The Load has turned into a worldwide movement to honor and remember our nation’s heroes.

"Every day, it's not just Memorial Day, that I carry that load but there have been so many people who have come to help carry that load so you are not carrying it alone," said Debbie Lee, Gold Star Mother.

She founded America's Mighty Warriors, a nonprofit that offers programs to help those who served and families of the fallen through hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT), Gold Star Respite and more. 

Lee's son, Marc Lee, 28, was the first U.S. Navy Seal killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006. 

"He stood out in the direct line of fire three times that day, willingly gave his life to save his teammates. There is nothing more noble or honorable than that," said Lee.

The national relay launched on the East Coast in 2011. In 2016, the West Coast route from Seattle to Dallas, Texas, was added.

"Remembering what has happened over the years and over the wars is so important in keeping our freedoms alive," said Michael "Goldy" Golden, West Coast Relay Manager.

Part of the 2021 route passes through San Diego with stops at Miramar National Cemetery, multiple SDFD stations, and the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery where Lee's son is buried. 

"The sacrifice that is made, the cemetery, the headstones, that's the price of freedom," said Lee. 

Reaching 46 states, people can register at carrytheload.org/register to join from April 29 through Memorial Day. This year people can participate by hosting a Carry It Anywhere experience, organizing a youth Carry The Flag activity, walking in the National Relay, attending a City Rally, fundraising for our nation’s heroes, and taking part virtually throughout the 32-day event.

"I would like to challenge them, to think about who they are carrying and who they will honor Memorial Day," said Golden.

Carry the Load has raised $28.6M for causes supporting veterans, first responders, and their families.

You can donate to Carry The Load here.


WATCH: Carry the Load: Honoring our nation's heroes with a month-long relay


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