While I was headed to the Montana border Saturday, April 20, Mike Ehredt of Project America Run found me in Idaho and walked a few miles with me. Mike has completed two runs across America, placing a small flag at every mile marker as a personal tribute to the military men and women who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. We had visited with him while he was running through Montana in 2010. (See www.projectamericarun.com)
So while Mike and I were walking and talking along Highway 2, a couple pulled over to talk to me. The gentleman was Harvey Martin, father of Spc. Ethan J. Martin (born 12-30-89 and passed away in Afghanistan on 08-07-12). Mike was able to tell Harvey how he placed a flag for his son, and where he had placed it. Wow, what a special meeting that turned out to be! Harvey gave me his son’s service decal, and it now rides proudly on my banner.
Later in the day, I learned that Harvey had just been diagnosed that week with stage 4 Leukemia and was to begin treatment this week. Harvey never mentioned it. Please keep this family in your prayers!
Early Saturday evening I crossed the border into Montana. I holed up to camp in the trees, and then realized all the sandwiches, fried chicken, smoked steelhead, beef jerky, oranges, noodles, cookies — a potpourri of things brought to me by generous Idaho folks — all of it had a delicious odor! Pleasant to me, probably more pleasant to hungry bears coming out of hibernation. Earlier that day, I had heard about a grizzly sow attack on a man very close to our Montana home. All that said, I packed the food far far away from the tent and wondered if it would still be there in the morning! (It was. And I was.)
Another gentleman and his wife walked a ways with me yesterday. He was the brother of my dear friend Gary from Polson, Montana, and he walked with a cane! Later some of the officers from the Troy VFW came out to ask me about where the donations go. They seemed a bit skeptical, as we all should be before handing out money to just any organization. I explained and referred them to the website, walkingforthefallen.com. After they looked online they must have felt more comfortable because both the VFW and the VFW Women’s Auxillary donated a generous sum. Even the people playing Bingo at the VFW donated to Walking for the Fallen.
I am going to need to update the donation gauge on my cart!
The VFW also sponsored a motel room in Troy where the owner was not a veteran yet appreciated what we are accomplishing with the walk.
I think one of the coolest things I am seeing is when moms and dads stop to say hi, and then return with their children. These parents really understand respect, love of country and support for our troops, and are teaching the next generation these important values as well.