ARLINGTON, Va. – It was a test of sheer will. A Virginia man walked from Richmond to Arlington National Cemetery this weekend to honor and thank the military.
Victor Wise from Staunton, Virginia started his 100 mile journey on Friday morning at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond. Sunday morning, just under 48 hours later, he reached his destination. “Pride. Joy. Humbled. I mean, look out here. All these American flags, shouts of encouragement… It was a humbling experience,” he says.
Wise traveled up Route 1 carrying a 50 pound ruck. Co-workers, friends and strangers joined him along the way, including his yellow lab Kona. “I’m going to have to cut my shoes off my feet, to be honest with you. They’re in rough shape. I feel like I’m walking around on bricks right now. I’m looking forward to a long bath. I got about 6 hours of sleep Thursday night and haven’t been to bed since,” he says.
With tears in his eyes, he dedicated the effort to the troops. “(It’s a) sense of pride in America. I just think that sometimes we forget the blessings we have and the people that give them to us and the families that sacrifice so much. They need to know that we appreciate them.”
Military service runs in his family, including his father, a former National Guard First Sergeant, who served in Iraq and Cuba.
He started the “Freedom Ruck” challenge last year and this year he raised nearly $5,000 for the Navy Seal Foundation. “It’s not really about the money, to be honest with you. The money obviously helps to take care of the soldiers who sacrifice so much. That’s a great part of it but the main concern, for me, is to say ‘thank you,’’ he says. “When you see them at the bar, buy them a beer. Or if you see them out at lunch, buy them lunch. Even if you see them at the airport, go up to them and thank them.”
He’s already thinking to next year, the third annual Freedom Ruck. “After this year, heck, why not?”
To donate to the Freedom Ruck and the Navy Seal Foundation, click here.