This is start number 3 to this post. Mainly because while I am usually pretty good with words, I'm not quite sure there are words to capture the experience that is Ruck to Remember.
I want to share with you the stories of our team leader Luke, our team mates some in retirement others fighting cancer... I want to tell you about blisters and bad ideas (all mine by the way). I want to tell you how we each had moments, but none of those anecdotal tails will truly capture what 60 to 60 is all about. Mainly because It's Not About You.
When I came home... tired and walking funny... people asked me "what happened to you" I simply responded with the truth. I ruck marched to Arlington National Cemetery this weekend. Other than my immediate family the response was some sort of "Why the hell would you do that?". I have to say it was hard not to be annoyed. I'm a vocal and confrontational person (I know you're shocked)... I wanted to say "because what would be better? floating around on a boat getting drunk? why the hell WOULDN'T you be at Arlington?" I wanted to say "Oh I'm sorry, didn't realize I was such a fool for wanting to DO SOMETHING to Honor the Fallen, sorry my plans don't make sense to you". My INSTINCT was blocked though. Here's why....
All weekend you heard:
"Suffer in Silence"
"It's not about you..."
"This is for THEM"
We heard about "Schnoz" we learned about Ian Helms and Andrew Maitner. We talked about Joe and Christian. We honored Justus and Christopher... So while the question of "why the hell would you do that" popped out of other people I knew exactly why and a smart ass response would dishonor the mission so carefully crafted to Honor, Empower and Remember. My response was simple - It was the right thing to do.
I'm not quite sure there is a phrase that can sum up what Ruck to Remember is. What I can tell you is if you ever want to have a truly meaningful experience over Memorial Day Weekend. If you are the type of person who wants to DO something to Honor our Fallen. When the "holiday" comes each year if you feel you are falling short I encourage you to join us. You spend your days and evenings surrounded by like minded patriots and athletes from Operation Enduring Warrior. The "down time" is filled with Stories of Valor... "A Warrior dies twice, once on the battlefield and again the last time his name is spoken aloud". Their names are spoken, their memory lives on, their families are lifted up.
Keith Jolly, the founder of the event, will tell you over and over it doesn't matter how many steps you take as long as you take them. He doesn't keep time on a race clock (pace, well pace is a different story), he doesn't hand out medals for who came in first. In fact... we all come in together. From Alpha team who takes off through the trail at a crushing pace to fresh feet that join us for the final miles. It doesn't matter. What matters is that Gold Star Families SEE our commitment. They know the name of their loved one is on our lips and their story in our hearts. They can see, feel, touch that WE haven't forgotten.
So again. I wish I had something brilliant to say. What I will say is you will never make better friends faster. You will find brothers and sisters you never knew you'd needed so much. You will do something greater than yourself - just by taking one step.
Who I Rucked For:
LCDR Joseph Clunie
CTTC Christian Pike
Thank you Crystal and Diana for allowing me this opportunity to represent the men you loved so very much. I'll be back next year with Joe and Christian with me each step of the way.
Thank you to everyone who donated, sent packing list supplies, met us along the way to give encouragement, Mom, Paulie and Julie for watching the kids, NWCA Eleanore Roosevelt for cookies and fruit. All of our hosts for rest specifically the amazing FDs throughout the journey. The Red Shirts for every smile and high five. Belt for taking my Ruck and keeping me going. Rhonda for donuts and Bridget for a ride. Charlie and Luke for keeping us together til the end. So many moving pieces to this puzzle of life - and all of you played a big part. I cannot begin to capture my gratitude in text. Please don't think I've forgotten anyone. Kristina and Josh - what an amazing 7 miles we did visiting friends at Arlington. Thank you for letting me share that time with you. Sully for the pep talk and finally, my loving husband Byron, who sent texts, called and kept telling me to keep going.