Remembering the fallen and honoring those who have served is the goal of a new biannual march being hosted in Temple.
Non-profit Rucks on Main will be hosting their first march through downtown Temple on Saturday to honor veterans ahead of Veterans Day next week. The march will be one of two held annually, with the other being held each Memorial Day to honor those fallen soldiers.
Organization president Wes Albanese said the event will encourage those participating to wear a rucksack or backpack similar to how servicemen have their marches.
“The Veteran Day ruck march — anyone can sign up and join and they will be rucking for a veteran they know,” Albanese said. “The Memorial Day one will be themed around the fallen and anybody that they have lost. Everybody knows a soldier that is gone, and that ruck march will be to help honor them.”
The event will start at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, with participants starting and ending at Santa Fe Plaza, 201 W. Ave. A.
Albanese said he originally wanted the march to resemble traditional ruck marches in the military by being 12 miles long, but was later convinced to scale it back for those who are not used to that lengthy of a march. He said he felt it was important to split up the march and have it twice a year, and allow different groups of people come out at each event.
Jason Deckman, a board member of the organization, said he hated long marches when he joined the Army, but learned to love them.
Deckman said his viewpoint on these marches has now changed over the years, especially after attending the Bataan Memorial Death March held at the White Sands Missile Range each year. After meeting two survivors of the Battle of Bataan in World War II, Deckman said, he saw how much it meant to them that people still remembered and honored them for what they went through.
“When I was a young private, the last thing I wanted to do was go on a long ruck march carrying a heavy pack,” Deckman said. “Along the way, I toughened up and began to enjoy it. Completing the march as a unit bonded us together.”
Participants in the march will be encouraged to weigh down their packs — normally about 40 pounds in a traditional march — with non-perishable food.
The food carried by the marchers will be donated to the Temple-based Love of Christ Food Pantry, which will be accepting donations at the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum as part of its Fall Harvest Family Day.
Participants will receive a T-shirt and wristband at registration. They will receive a challenge coin — and a beer for those age 21 or older — when the march is completed. Live music and food for purchase will be available at the end of the march in Santa Fe plaza, starting at noon.
Albanese said the organization is also looking to have social services after the march, to offer aid for soldiers and their families.
Funds being raised by the organization will be used as grants that will be given to other non-profits in the area that either support veterans or are established by veterans.
Registration for the event will cost $55 per person. To sign up, visit the group’s website at https://bit.ly/3jASGHM.