Veterans started a long walk last week with one idea in mind: to raise awareness and funds for the North Carolina Veterans Hall of Fame.
The five-day walk, which was originally supposed to be 132 miles long, ended up totaling 146 miles after the vets decided to make an extra stop between Fayetteville and Charlotte.
Those who have served in the military are planning a permanent hall of fame in Charlotte and are using the walk to raise funds to make it happen. Although there are virtual veteran hall of fame locations in other states, this would be the first permanent location in the U.S.
Curtis Drafton, an Army vet and member of the hall’s board of directors, walked the entire distance. He said there are legacies left behind in North Carolina and that stories of veterans in small towns go unheard and need to be told.
“They have left legacies that Charlotte probably won’t hear about,” Drafton said. “The point of the march is to meet the people, shake the hands of those who lost a family member and bring those stories to the Veterans Hall of Fame hub in Charlotte.”
Robert Quinlan, who is planning to join the Air Force, walked the final stretch Sunday. “It was a lot more than I expected,” Quinlan said, noting that when he arrived at the Central Piedmont Community College central campus, there was an outpouring of support from firefighters, police and professional sports mascots waiting to greet them after the hike.
“I met mothers who lost their only son in the family. So who carries on that legacy? They have a chance to adopt us … and let them know they are not forgotten,” Drafton said.
You can learn more about the cause by going to https://www.ncmvhof.org/