Carry The Load Makes Memorial Day Matter Again

Published on April 16, 2021

memorial day match with american flags, carry the load

Ten years ago, Carry The Load (CTL) began as a 20-hour and 11-minute march on Memorial Day around White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas. With international military conflicts winding down, it was a grassroots effort started by two veteran United States Navy SEALs who felt like people had forgotten the true meaning of Memorial Day. Now, a decade later, CTL has grown into a national movement that honors fallen military members and first responders every day of the year.

CTL Ambassador John Kohlschein grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. After graduating from high school, he joined and served in the United States Air Force from 1986 to 1990. He describes this era as “the last of the Cold War.” In 2019, John left the corporate world and became a proud veteran business owner of Gotcha Covered window treatments. He continues to advocate for CTL and lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with his wife and three teenage daughters.

man kneeling beside a US flag at a carry the load memorial day march

Dallas Memorial March

On the last Monday of May each year, the Memorial Day holiday seems to be known mostly as a kickoff to summer – a time to head out to the lake and have a BBQ. However, Memorial Day is intended to honor and mourn for those who have died performing military duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces. CTL pays tribute by carrying the burden and memory of these individual military members and first responders.

“Our Dallas Memorial March continues to be Carry The Load’s keystone event. The Dallas Memorial March is the culmination of Memorial May fundraising to benefit Carry The Load’s Continuum of Care partner organizations. To date, we have raised $28.6 million for our awareness, Continuum of Care and education programs,” says John.

4 people carrying flags at a carry the load march in dallas texas

Continuum of Care

CTL’s Continuum of Care program is based on strategic collaborations with corporations and non-profit organizations. The program raises much-needed awareness, as well as valuable funding, to assist with the many issues and challenges facing military veterans, first responders and the families they leave behind.

Each year CTL works through a third-party committee to select non-profit organizations that provide direct service programs to veterans, first responders and their families. This year, CTL selected 50 non-profit partners including 22Kill, Assist the Officer Foundation, Gratitude Initiative and more.

a memorial display of photos and a pack for a US fallen officer at a carry the load event in dallas

Who Are You Carrying?

“This Memorial Day I’m carrying two fallen heroes. Staff sergeant Zachary Barton died in 2013 from suicide related to his post traumatic stress. Lieutenant Charley (Tuna) Turner was one of the first official casualities of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. I have a personal connection to both of them and I will be carrying their memories on my back and in my heart,” says John.

Carry The Load is a registered IRS 501(c)3 organization in the US.

photo of a US fallen soldier

Photos courtesy John Kohlschein

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The Author
With more than 15 years of corporate and government writing experience, Elizabeth Ireland thrives on meeting new people and experiencing new things. She believes the best stories come from immersing herself in the subject matter, whether she’s underground at a mine or attending a gala event.