DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
BURNET — Former Burnet County Commissioner James Holbrook understands the reason for Memorial Day on a personal level. So when Reveille Peak Ranch owner Vol Montgomery shared the idea of Carry the Load 20.13 with Holbrook, the former commissioner kept his opinion simple.
“It’s a good idea,” Holbrook said. “We need to remember these folks. We need to remember who they were and what they did.”
Capt. Jason Holbrook, the son of James and Elaine Holbrook, died July 29, 2010, while serving in southern Afghanistan. He was a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces. The 28-year-old left behind his parents, siblings and wife, Heather Holbrook. He also leaves behind a legacy of a proud and courageous man who deserved to be honored and recognized like the many others who gave their lives for the country.
Memorial Day was created for just such a reason. But often the reason behind the day gets pushed into the background as people use the fourth Monday in May as the kickoff for summer, shopping or just another day off from work or school.
Carry the Load 20.13 came about to remind people about the reason for Memorial Day and the men and women who it honors. The original Carry the Load started two years ago in Dallas after former U.S. Navy Seal Clint Bruce became upset that Americans seemed to have forgotten what Memorial Day meant.
“I think we take for granted what the day is really about,” Montgomery said back in March. “It is a day to honor those who died for our country.”
Reveille Peak Ranch, 105 CR 114, located west of Burnet off Texas 29 and FM 2341, is hosting the Austin Carry the Load event. The gates open at 10 a.m. The day starts with live demonstration of military, law enforcement and firefighting capabilities.
This includes the Texas Air National Guard Parachute Demonstration Team, a helicopter helocast, unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned land-based vehicles, advanced weapons demonstration and multiple SWAT teams.
While the live demonstrations offer a glimpse into law enforcement and firefighting operations the public doesn’t typically see, organizers said the real reason behind the event is the Carry the Load 20.13-mile walk that begins at 2 p.m.
During the walk, teams will trek around the Reveille Peak Ranch pond and a circular course for up to 20.13 miles.
“While the readiness component is exciting, we really want people to come out for the walk,” Montgomery said.
The walk isn’t a race, and participants don’t even have to complete the 20.13 miles or even one mile. The idea, organizers said, was simply to get people coming together to remember those men and women who died in service of the country.
Abraham Santillan is a member of a team walking in honor of Capt. Holbrook.
Though he didn’t know the special forces soldier, Santillan, who is an Army veteran himself, lost a friend in Afghanistan in 2005.
“Memorial Day is about everybody,” he said. “There are brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, moms and dads out there fighting every day for freedom. And I think when you stop and remember those local people who have gone over there and died for our country, you realize it’s not about somebody living in some town far away. It hits home.”
During the event, the entire team walks together — some in honor of one or two people, some in honor of many more. Kim Kelsall, whose brother Lt. Commander Jonas Kelsall was a U.S. Navy SEAL who died in Afghanistan, recalled during last year’s event in Dallas meeting a man who was carrying a log with the name of every SEAL killed since 2001 inscribed on it. Others, she said, carried fire hoses with the names of all the first responders killed at the Twin Towers after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
She carried mementoes of her brother during her walk. Kelsall pointed out it’s not about carrying the most or walking the fastest or farthest. She said it’s all about the intent: taking the time to honor those who served.
That’s one of the reasons Santillan decided to form a team. He admitted he got a late start for the 2013 event with only three members at this time.
“We’re looking for more team members,” he said. “Everybody’s welcome. Even if you don’t join a team, show up and walk.”
Along with honoring Memorial Day, Carry the Load is raising money for several local organizations that support veterans, service member families and first responders. Those groups are Serve Who Serve, Heroes on the Water, Folds of Honor and Comfort Crew.
The Holbrooks plan to be there.
“Yeah, it’s pretty important to us,” James Holbrook said. “It’s good for people to remember what Memorial Day is all about.”
For more information on the event, go to www.carrytheload.org or www.facebook.com/CarryTheLoadAustin. For directions to the event, go to www.rprtexas.com.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Carry the Load 20.13
WHEN: May 25
WHERE: Reveille Peak Ranch, 105 CR 114 (west of Burnet on Texas 29, then north on FM 2341)
SCHEDULE: Gates open at 10 a.m.; Texas law enforcement and military capabilities demonstration is 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m.; family nature trail tours are 1 p.m.; opening ceremonies are 1:45 p.m.; Carry the Load 20.13 walk begins at 2 p.m.
FOR MORE: www.carrytheload.com; www.facebook.com/CarryTheLoadAustin; www.rprtexas.com