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A mile or 30 in their shoes
Oct 20, 2012 4:00 pm
Wilson County volunteers will each embark on a 30-mile march this Veterans Day to honor and assist America’s veterans.
The Tennessee Four Points of the Compass March will begin in Nashville’s Legislative Plaza, Murfreesboro, Carthage and Hartsville Nov. 11 at 5:30 a.m and converge in Lebanon Square by 5 p.m.
“The whole point of this is not to bring attention to ourselves, but to try to create a realistic perspective of what our soldiers go through,” said Jim Retzke, president of the Fallen Soldier March.
This is the first year for the Tennessee Four Point of the Compass March, which grew out of the Fallen Soldier March, originally a nine-mile march in Lebanon.
In 2009, Master Sgt. Jim Williams promised to march the 30 miles from Lebanon Square to Nashville’s Legislative Plaza if at least 100 soldiers attended the annual Fallen Soldiers March. They did, so he did.
Retzke joined Williams on the trek, and despite extensive media coverage and spectator support along the route, a single supporter – Williams’s father – greeted them as they finished the march in Legislative Plaza.
The following year, Retzke and volunteers reversed the route to begin in Legislative Plaza and end in Lebanon Square.
The amount of response has grown since then, and continues to do so, according to Retzke.
“This has been major growing year,” said Retzke. “My vision is to see that whole Square filled with people.”
This year’s march added the three additional routes to represent the four cardinal points of the compass – north, south, east and west.
“This isn’t like the nine-mile march, where hundreds of people show up to march,” said Retzke. “Participation is typically limited to five people.”
Legalities and logistics prohibit large numbers of people, according to Retzke.
Participants will accept donations as they march, and all money collected will help purchase service dogs for wounded soldiers. These service dogs can cost from $10,000 to more than $30,000 each.
Anyone making a donation at the event will receive a Fallen Soldiers March T-shirt.
Donations may also be made online at fallensoldiermarch.com or at any Wilson Bank location.
“When a lot of people stand up and do the right thing, it doesn’t take a lot of money,” said Retzke.
Staff writer Sara McManamy-Johnson can be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 16 or email@example.com.