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Carry the Load Pays Homage to Service Men and Women
Sunday, May 21, 2023


A brightly painted red, white and blue bus pulled into the parking lot at the Ketchum Fire Department Friday evening.

Emblazoned with the logo “Carry the Load,” it boasted “32 days. 20,000 miles. 48 states. One Mission.” and the words “Honor Our Heroes” in a ribbon held by a fierce looking bald eagle.

Brought to Ketchum in conjunction with Higher Ground, it was part of what has become a national effort every Memorial Day to remind people of the true meaning of Memorial Day—that it’s not just about backyard barbecues and the first campout of the summer season but a day meant to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the armed services.

Carry the Load was founded by two Veteran U.S. Navy SEALS, kicking off with a Memorial March in Dallas in 2011. It now features buses canvassing routes in New England, along the East and West coasts and elsewhere, often with rallies along the way.

Local veterans often join the marches, thinking about “Who Are You Carrying?” as they walk.

“The idea is to remember fallen companions who lost their lives in service. We’re walking for those who lost their lives in battle,” said one spokesman.

This particular bus trip began at 12:30 p.m. Friday at the Idaho State Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Idaho Falls with a Carry the Load walk and rally. Upon reaching Ketchum, supporters walked to the Ketchum Cemetery from the Ketchum Fire Department and back.

This particular trip shown the spotlight on four servicemen, including two Colorado men and a Cleveland, Ohio, private first class killed during World War II.

The fourth, Capt. Francis Dee “Piston” Imlay, was with the 351st Fighter Squadron “Bold Tigers” at Mountain Home Air Force Base. He was killed in March 2012 of injuries he suffered during an accident involving his F-15 aircraft near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

He was a husband, father and an airman with a passion for defending his country, and he was honored with a fistful of medals.

“Memorial Day has lost its meaning, becoming a day for barbecues,” said Erin Rheinschild of Higher Ground. “This is part of teaching our youth what Memorial Day is all about.”

A Memorial Day Ceremony honoring the Wood River Valley’s service men and women will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, May 29, at the Hailey Cemetery.

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