By Maxwell Svec, One Summit Manager, Strategic Programs & Events
Early November tends to be a time of quiet contemplation; daylight quietly dwindles, only lasting what seems like a few hours; the end of the year rapidly approaches, and, of course, Veterans Day takes place on November 11th. It's a day to honor and recognize the innumerable courageous sacrifices the men and women in our military make every single day—some making the ultimate sacrifice for their country and for the freedom of all of us.
For this Veterans Day, we wanted to share an impactful short film that weaves together some incredible people, organizations, and notions we hold in high regard here at One Summit. The video was shared with us by our founder and U.S. Navy SEAL veteran, Adam La Reau, who is longtime friends with Clint Bruce, a fellow veteran Navy SEAL. Clint co-founded Carry The Load with another SEAL veteran named Stephen Holley. Carry The Load is a nonprofit organization that began as a simple idea to bring back the true meaning of Memorial Day. However, "What started in 2011…has now grown into a nationwide movement with people volunteering throughout the year to honor and remember our nation's heroes." Each May, they now host a National Relay that advances the American flag 20,000 miles across the 48 contiguous states over five different routes. Carry The Load "provides active ways to connect Americans to the sacrifices made daily by our military, veterans, first responders, and their families."
The film Adam shared with us is entitled Amazingly Woven and intertwines the formation of Carry The Load, the story of U.S. Marine Corps veteran Dan Runzheimer, and the creation of Whiskey Bravo by Dan's young pen pal Ben Barkoff. During his time in the service, Dan's platoon included Jordan Haerter, who was just 19 years old when he was killed in action in Iraq on April 22nd, 2008. Later that year, Dan, and many of his platoonmates, took part in a bike race to honor Jordan's life, and it was there that he met Ben, who was about five years old at the time. Ben and his brother William had been raising money for veterans by selling cookies and lemonade, and Ben's dad asked Dan if the brothers could write him letters. Dan readily agreed to strike up a pen pal relationship, and Ben now considers him "a lifelong mentor and personal hero."
Inspired by his relationship with Dan, his desire to honor Jordan, and his passion for helping veterans, Ben created Whiskey Bravo, his organization and school club that teaches "students the importance of our military through service projects, lessons, and other initiatives" and provides them with ways to get involved in supporting the veteran community. Ben's organization has now paid tribute to countless veterans through service, awareness, and kindness. This incredible initiative was borne in no small part thanks to Ben's pen pal relationship with Dan, and their mentorship parallels our mission at One Summit to connect our Navy SEAL mentors with our Little Warriors. Akin to our love of storytelling, Amazingly Woven illustrates the power and beauty in our young people and military service members connecting with and learning from one another.
So, each day, and especially this Veterans Day, we think about those we've lost in our military community and express our deep gratitude to our Navy SEAL mentors for their contributions to our country and our One Summit community. If I have learned one thing during my time at this organization, it would be that our mentors make immense sacrifices and give so much, yet they still desire to do more, give more, and serve more. I will never not be impressed by and in awe of that immeasurable truth.
If you’d like to dive deeper this Veterans Day, here are some additional resources :
- A Conversation with Carry The Load’s Co-Founders Clint Bruce & Stephen Holley
- Make an impact and learn more about Whiskey Bravo’s Student Club
- Learn more about Marine Veteran Jordan Haerter who made the ultimate sacrifice in Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Browse the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs official Veterans Day Poster Gallery, which spans the past 45 years
Do you have a great Resource in Resilience that you would like to share with the One Summit community? Connect with Max at email@example.com to tell him more about it!