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Carry The Load Celebration Still Honors Military Heroes... Just Differently Because Of COVID-19

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Each Memorial Day thousands of people verge on Reverchon Park in Dallas to honor the nation's veterans.

But this 10th year for the Carry The Load Memorial March was different because of the coronavirus. Instead of on foot, the march was changed to a memorial drive.

The occupants of more than 500 registered vehicles made their way along the two-mile stretch, down streets lined with storyboards representing men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice. 

The executive director of the event, Debbie Wright, told CBS 11 News how important the event is. "It's Memorial Day. You can't push Memorial Day back," she said. "Those who lost someone, they need to be honored."

The cars and trucks were decorated patriotically, many with signs showing who they were 'carrying'... boards of sacrifice from Korea, Vietnam, all the way up to present day.

Instead of 20 hours and 20 minutes, organizers had to trim the event time down to 3 hours. But that didn't dampen the spirits of veteran Lt. Colonel Junior Ortiz, whose family has a history of military service, who said his goal is to bring back the meaning of Memorial Day. "I was one of the lucky ones," he said. "I've been blessed in more ways than one, but I've lost a considerable amount of individuals along the way. So for me the storyboards are a great way to help have their legacy continue."

Carry The Load started in 2011 with a march by two Veteran Navy SEALs. From there the organization has grown to include hundreds of thousands across the U.S. and has raised millions of dollars for military, first responders and their families.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire world has become painfully aware of the courage and sacrifice of those on the front lines," said Carry The Load CEO Stephen Holley. " We're here to mourn the loss of those who've given the ultimate sacrifice, but we're also here, united to celebrate those lives and thank God that such men and women lived."

The National Moment of Remembrance is at 3:00 p.m. on Monday. Organizers with the march/drive are asking everyone to take a moment at that time to honor fallen military servicemen and women and their families.

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