DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
BURNET — While Kinsale, Ireland, and Burnet are thousands of miles and an ocean apart, they are linked by one thing: remembering those who died in the service of the United States.
On the surface, it does sound odd that Kinsale, an Irish port and fishing town on the southwest coast of the country, would take time to remember Americans who died in service to the U.S. as well as the firefighters who died responding to 9/11, but there is a connection.
“If you look at our history and the history of so many of the men who fought for our country,” said Ashley Kamrath of Reveille Peak Ranch and Serve Who Serve, “you’ll see that many of them have Irish ties or Irish backgrounds.”
During a recent trip to Kinsale, Kamrath and Reveille Peak Ranch owner Vol Montgomery witnessed the connection between the two countries during the installation of Chapter 001 of the Irish Veterans Organization at The White House Hotel. The dedication was in honor of U.S. Navy SEAL Lt. Commander Michael Murphy, who died during combat operations in Afghanistan (his story was recounted in the book and movie “Lone Survivor”).
While Ireland is an ocean away, Highland Lakes residents can honor fallen American service members during the third annual Carry the Load at Reveille Peak Ranch on May 24. The event offers people a chance to “carry the load” for somebody who died while serving the nation.
Kamrath said she and those affiliated with Reveille Peak Ranch are proud that Carry the Load is returning for the third year to the facility, 105 CR 114 in Burnet.
“What’s so special about Carry the Load is it’s an opportunity for veterans, military members and their families to come together with the public and remember those who have died,” she said. “I think it’s important to remember, but it’s also important to build those relationships between service members and the civilians.”
Carry the Load features a law-enforcement and military capabilities display, but the heart of the program is the walk: 20.15 miles.
During the walk, teams “carry” the memory of service members, first responders or others who died while serving the United States. But it’s not just a team event, Kamrath explained.
“Everybody is welcome to come out,” she said. “You can register or just show up. The idea is to just remember.”
While the goal is to complete the 20.15 miles, it’s not necessary. Some walk it all — even while shouldering a heavy pack — while others make a lap or two. The important thing is just taking a few minutes to honor those who died in service of the country.
Ironically, sometimes it takes another country to remind us how important that simple thing is.
Kamrath wasn’t expecting to be touched in such a way when she first learned of the Irish town’s remembrance of 9/11. She, her finance and her family were in Kinsale just traveling in January when they stopped at The White House Hotel restaurant. When her mother returned from the restroom, tears flowed from her eyes.
“She said, ‘You have to go look at that hall,’” Kamrath said.
What she found down a hall was a tribute to 9/11 — photos, newspaper articles, memorabilia of the firefighters and first responders.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Kamrath said.
The town even had a 9/11 Memorial Garden of Remembrance.
She learned from The White House Hotel owner Michael Frawley Jr. that, in April, the community was hosting the dedication and formation of Chapter 001 of the Irish Veterans Organization with a special honor for Murphy.
So in April, she and Montgomery and his wife returned to Kinsale for the ceremony.
The organization was formed by James Sikora, a Irish man who had served in the U.S. Army.
The ceremony reminded Kamrath of the importance of remembering our service members.
“They’ve done so much for us,” she said. “What’s taking a little time (May 24) to remember them?”
Go to carrytheload.org for more information on the event. Register by clicking “Get Involved” and then the Austin Memorial March, which is for the Burnet event.