Madison first responders and veterans march to honor their fellow service members

Published: May. 5, 2019 at 9:34 PM CDT
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The annual Carry the Load relay march, honoring military veterans and first responders, passed through Madison Sunday evening.

This is the first year the relay has set up a route through the Midwest. The march started in Minneapolis on Friday.

Dozens of firefighters, police and veterans marched through Madison to honor the people currently serving overseas and in their communities.

"We can’t forget what people have done for us and what their legacies were and why they did it. The further you remove yourself from that in society, I think you don’t appreciate the things that you have and the reasons that you have them," said Paul Schecklman, a Madison firefighter helping lead the march.

The march also focuses on preserving the memories of the people who gave their lives in service.

"All the freedoms that you have, somebody gave up their life, gave up time, made a huge sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice for you to have those freedoms," said Brandon Asberry, a Dallas firefighter.

Carry the Load is a nonprofit focused on honoring the memories of those who serve. The relay started in 2011 as a march in Dallas, and it has gradually expanded over the years.

"We spend time physically walking and biking and sharing those stories so that no veteran ever dies twice," Schecklman said.

The march through Madison had a special meaning for some. Some marchers came out to honor Madison firefighter

, who collapsed and died suddenly after a shift in 2018.

"He was one of the most amazing guys and he would do anything for anybody, so the fact that I can give a few hours today to honor him, it just, it means so much for everything that he’s done for everybody else," said Amanda Acker, whose fiancé worked with Garner.

For Asberry, the march is about passing on the lesson of putting others first.

"I also have a 6-month-old son and it’s kind of something that I want him to be able to look back on as he gets older, something to always be able to give service and help others and always put yourself second or third to make sure the memory of others who came and laid the foundation for you, that they’re never forgotten," he said.

The march through the Midwest will end in Dallas on Memorial Day weekend. The east and west coast routes will also meet there for a weekend of celebrating and remembering the people Carry the Load calls the nation's heroes.