The Summit Project to Host 2nd Tribute Trek at Acadia National Park
Family Gathering to Honor Maine’s Post 9/11 Fallen Military Heroes
More pictures here. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6v30ur1qvyjms0i/AAAuugUqh9SIZg4BNG5-FHkUa?dl=0
Bar Harbor, Maine – On Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, four teams of 20 hikers will simultaneously summit Cadillac Mountain from the north, east, south and west to converge on Acadia National Park’s highest peak as part of The Summit Project, a unique living memorial that honors and pays special tribute to Maine’s post 9/11 fallen service members. The hikers – from all over Maine, will carry an engraved stone that was donated by the families of Maine’s fallen unearthed from a place significant to their loved one and uniquely represents them. TSP Founder, Major David J. Cote, USMC stated: “They will carry their stone for the hike, but carry their story for a lifetime, ensuring that Maine heroes are not forgotten.”
Maine’s Gold Star families and the greater community of families of Maine’s fallen are invited to join our group for a day of fellowship, remembrance and honor at Thompson’s Island picnic area overlooking the coast of Maine. Hikers will depart Thompson’s Island at 8:00 a.m. to start their journey to Cadillac Peak. Afterwards, hikers will return to Thompson’s Island for a special memorial reception, barbeque and patch ceremony. Media are invited to the reception and BBQ at 2pm. The Patriot Rider motorcycle organization will depart at 3pm and carry the stones back to their home base in Portland, Maine.
Hikers include parents and siblings of Maine’s Fallen Heroes. Some hikers are returning veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while others are teachers, small business owners, law enforcement officers and professionals from all sectors and from all over Maine. All of them want to ensure that Maine heroes are not forgotten.
One hiker, retired Army combat medic, John C. Curtis from Lisbon, Maine, will carry the story and stone of fellow Mainer and fellow combat veteran and medic from the 1st Cavalry Division, Ft Hood, Texas, Private First Class (PFC) Jason E. Dore of Moscow, Maine. They served overseas together and in John’s words – “For my fellow warrior Jason E. Dore, I will hike up any mountain on this planet. I owe it to him and his family. Nothing will stop me. Therefore I have no reason to give up, and Failure isn’t an option.”
All hikers have thoroughly researched the lives of his or her assigned hero. After the hike, each hiker will publish reflection letters to the surviving families of the fallen ensuring their loved ones are not forgotten. Our hikers and all those who participate on October 17th, will ensure that Maine Heroes are NOT Forgotten. The Summit Project reveals the character of Maine and America — A character of service, integrity, duty and loyalty. Through TSP we are able live a life worthy of their sacrifice, we are able to carry on the unfinished work of our fallen heroes toward creating a safer, sounder more just America.
More great pics here courtesy of Mike Peterson, Steve Crossman, and Lori Krupke.
2015 TSP at ANP After Hike Reflection. Tony Mason. 10/21/15
As I am sitting down to write this letter (or would it be a personal reflection essay) I’m thinking to myself about what I can say to contribute to The Summit Project family and to bring in another perspective. As a teenager I haven’t been able to really experience much of the world and truly appreciate what it has to offer.
What The Summit Project has done for me is open my mind to one large part of this enigmatic journey we call life. Before I climbed with The Summit Project in the May of 2015 I had understood—or at least thought I understood—the importance of our vets. Going through that hike I got a sense of the lasting impressions that our servicemen and women leave on us, but I didn’t think it really extended outside of the circle of people that I hiked with. Going through this hike at Acadia National Park gave me more of an understanding of how our fallen heroes leave behind legacies and special places in our hearts. I heard stories from a lot of people who were friends or family members of the Fallen and I watched as some of them had difficulty expressing themselves because of the emotions rolling through them. For better or worse, I haven’t had to deal with the event of a family member or friend being lost in a combat zone, so I really don’t have that kind of comprehension.
I carried the Duty stone to the summit this time (contrary to carrying Private Dustin Small last May) and gave, what some claimed, was an impressive speech. Basically the whole gist of my speech was that they [military personnel] had terrible jobs to do, yet they did them. I related two stories: Fighting on the Frontlines and three other members’ stories about IED strikes. I told about how I had learned of rigorous and dangerous jobs that military members had to carry out every day and how, even though they didn’t like it, they still did it (for whatever reason they did it). I wouldn’t say that this stone assignment was easy, because it wasn’t, but I was a little more prepared this time. I was prepared in the sense that I had already known what Duty was and how to translate it to other people. I think the hardest part was relating it to other stories and tying it in with our soldiers.
If there is anything that I learned on the hike—my big takeaway I guess—it would have to be the mere fact there really are a lot of people that care for our fallen comrades and have not forgotten about the war, both overseas and back home. What would make me say this is the evidence that I can take from social media and my high school. At first it seemed like the majority of people that I had met had little respect for our soldiers (i.e. military recruiters who come to my school every once in awhile) and that most of them had truly forgotten the current conflicts we are fighting in. I see a lot of people who have no pride in their country and our military and it astonishes me. However, everytime I go to a TSP sponsored event I see over a hundred men and women coming from all walks of life who have not forgotten. To me, that’s one hundred more people who have saved and honored fallen heroes’ lives.
Barb Lovely wrote:
I had the honor of carrying the STRENGTH stone on Oct 17 2015. Strength means a lot of different things to different people. On the day of Oct 17 2015 I saw strength in many different forms.
– the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force
– the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way
I believe that all of these fallen heroes had STRENGTH.
“You never know strong you are until strong is the only choice you have”
“True strength is holding it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart”
“Be strong, you never know who you are inspiring”
Nevin Williams wrote:
|Hi again! My name is Nevin Williams, from Brewer, Maine.
It is officially two weeks after the SUMMIT PROJECT ANP hike up Cadillac. This was my 2nd hike for the SUMMIT PROJECT and a bit of a different experience for me. My spring hike, in BSP, was one of ‘ nervous tension ! When I drove in that beautiful spring day all I could think of was, ‘ why did you sign up for this gathering Nevin, you know ABSOLUTELY no one here. Well, I parked my jeep, walked into the lobby to register for the weekend and saw this big smile coming from the ONLY person I had any kind of connection with ( her name is Heather Audet and our one connection was she and her husband are raising their three children in the same neighborhood where I grew up and my parents continue to reside.) and she had Facebook messaged me a few times for encouragement. When she caught my eye, she stepped around the table to give me a ‘ welcome hug’. From that moment on, I learned that this group of people would soon become more than just aquaintences! Three years prior I had just completed a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail and one very quick lesson I had learned was, I would meet new people often! We would almost always become comfortable with one another and BOND! I may not see them again for days, weeks or even months! BUT, the lesson learned was that regardless of time shared together, much or little, regardless or how long ago we had walked the trail together or simply shared a night is a shelter / tent together, WE WERE FAMILY! We were instant and lasting family because we had a common bond, a common goal……we were walking from Maine to Georgia! We all had different reasons for trying to achieve this goal, but the end ‘ goal ‘ was common for us all! Those friendships remain to this day. Although our lives spread us out thousands of miles apart and we do not see each other , if I were to ‘ hit the trail ‘ and see one of those friends coming toward me, in my heart I would be seeing ‘ family!
For me, this is the embodiment of the SUMMIT PROJECT! We are all individuals who come from all walks of life; military ( past and present ), lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers, moms and dads, high school students, etc. , or simply an electrician from a small town in Maine. Regardless of lifestyle and backgrounds the ( guaranteed ) bond we share is our love of this great country and the thankful hearts we have for past and present service women and men who have given back make this country great and most importantly…… those women and / or men who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives! AND the families they have left behind!
My first hike was in honor of ‘ Jay ‘ and his family ! This fall was in honor of a ‘ spirit stone ‘
I trust those of you who read this short ‘ reflection ‘ will pause once in awhile yourselves to remember and thank those who have served and those whom we have ‘ lost ‘ because of their sacrifice. And never forget those who have been left behind! Their lives have been changed forever.
High where eagles dare to fly,
the wind is howling, heaving against the jagged rocks.
A climber relentlessly hangs on to ENDURANCE,
skillfully persevering til’ eventually the top is reached, the aim reached.
I am saddened by the necessary sacrifices made by men and women to make our country great, but I am THANKFUL for their service.
I am saddened when I think of the families left behind, knowing they have a burden to ENDURE for the rest of their lives, but I will pledge to never forget those families and will always strive to lighten that burden in any small way I can. MHANF ( Maine heroes are not forgotten ) AND Maine heroes FAMILIES will not be forgotten!
Thank you SUMMIT PROJECT for having a vision! Thank you SUMMIT PROJECT for making the vision a reality! And thank you SUMMIT PROJECT for giving me the privilege to remember ‘ our fallen ‘ and encourage those ‘ left behind ‘!
Bryan Miller wrote:
Family is not only blood, that is what google says but the internet or dictionary can not tell you what family really is. Family to me is brothers and sisters coming together and enduring together. The summit project is a big Family.
I have been in the U.S. Army since 2005 and we consider our selves as a family because you can always count on each other in tough times. Does not matter what part of the military your in, we are all family we all serve for one mission.
So carrying stones up the mountain it is like we are carrying family up, and honoring our fallen but not forgotten family. And making sure there family’s always remember that there hero will never be forgotten and always be honored. So family to me is someone i can count on to have my back no matter what!
Cathy Silva wrote:
TSP at ANP2015 Post Hike Reflection from Cathy Silva
It’s with deep gratitude that I reflect on October 17, 2015 when I had the opportunity to join with The Summit Project, Team KEBO as we carried the stories and stones for fallen Maine Heroes up Cadillac Mountain. I carried the spirit stone TEAMWORK.
I came to participate in TSP as a response to something that tugged at my heart when I read on Facebook, of this beautiful project created by David Cote; for the purpose of assuring that Maine Heroes are not forgotten.
Though I wasn’t entirely sure what it entailed and not completely confident I was physically prepared to, I knew it was the right thing for me to do. After making the decision I happened to be sitting next to my brother Brett in his living room while home on our summer vacation, when he mentioned he was interacting with David Cote about participating in TSP! It was one of those moments when Calling and Opportunity meet and in an instant I was on board.
It’s my experience that when we answer a Call to serve and commit to moving forward that things have a way of falling into place for the ultimate success of the mission given to us, and for the Purpose of realizing the Spirit of Love that makes us One. In participating in TSP, I certainly experienced the Spirit that day.
The TEAMWORK stone represents to me, us being in this together no matter what. In times of tragedy and loss especially, we come together as ‘individuals’ in response to a need, with our own sense of calling, our feelings of loss and of love, along with our gifts and strengths and we helped each other complete the task at hand.
There were definitely moments that I was challenged physically, having lived in Florida for the past 20 years and not accustomed to the altitude and terrain. But it seemed just when I became most concerned with holding everyone up, as a group we would pause for a break to take in our beautiful surroundings or for just a collective breather. At one point about half way up our team leader Russ had us stop for a few moments of silence to remember the reason for being there and bring to mind the souls we were hiking for. As we did this tears welled up from the depth of my being and I was replenished and ready to go on with a renewed sense of purpose and more of a spring in my step!
We shared stories and laughed as we went, feeling more like a family with every step.
As we were getting close to the top it became rather difficult for me to breathe. Two of my teammates noticed and asked if I was all right. They offered to carry my pack and gave me just the right advice and words of encouragement I needed to go on. I kept my pack, committed to carrying the stone that to me represented carrying the hearts of all there and all we remembered, in my own heart. Feeling the extension of Love from my friends, my pack felt a bit lighter and my breathing easier.
As we gathered in a circle at the top for our ceremony I felt the profound Presence of Love that remains after we pass from this life. Each and every one of the heroes; our brothers and sisters whose stones we carried were there with us. We expanded our family that day. Then back at base camp as we returned the stones to the Gold Star Families and The Patriot Riders it became apparent that the mission and purpose of TSP was fulfilled that day. Maine Heroes will not be forgotten, and I will remember that day and the TSP family with fondness and gratitude for years to come.
P.J. Laney wrote:
The Summit Project – Acadia National Park Hike 2015
On Saturday, October 17th, in the earliest hours before dawn people began to gather at Thompson Island in Acadia National Park for a day of respect, remembrance and honor.
More than 200 people were in attendance that included The Summit Project (TSP) Founder, Board Members, Gold Star Families, Patriot Riders, Hikers and Volunteers. Among the hikers and volunteers were several Bangor Savings Bank (BSB) employees; Joyce Clark Sarnacki hiked on Team Blackwood and Amy Gaetani, Jessica Johnston and JR Thompson hiked on Team Tarn while Sheryl Edgecomb, Terri Elden and P.J. Laney volunteered at Base Camp. The energy was high as members of each team arrived and everyone was preparing to give the hikers a spirited send off.
As the buses pulled away, Base Camp became busy with preparation for the arrival of the Gold Star Families, Patriot Riders and the return of the hikers over the next five hours; with table placements, settings, food preparation, arrangements of the buffet tables, setting up the Grill Masters tents and generators for the crockpots. There was time to visit with many of the Gold Star Families and learn the stories about their loved ones. The weather came in various waves similar to the emotions experienced that day; there was the calm of the early morning, a glorious sunrise, rain, wind, hail, gray sky, sunshine and rainbows. As Base Camp was experiencing hail the hikers were viewing a wonderful rainbow over Bar Harbor.
The hikers traversed to the summit of Cadillac Mountain in four teams of 20 from the East, West, North and South, carrying the weight of the stones and the stories of these fallen. As each team summited they conducted a stone ceremony where each hiker shared with their team what they had learned about their soldier; where they were from, where they served, how they died, what their character qualities and how they, the hiker, were impacted.
Jessica shared her experience as a hiker; “Our teams started mainly as strangers and by the end of the hike we were friends or TSP family members bonded together by this incredible experience. Our team spent time sharing stories about ourselves and our soldiers with our nearby hiking buddy in the line-up and people would get shuffled around and you found yourself doing the same thing with someone new. It was great! I also was greatly impacted by a Goldstar mom on our team who had lost her son. She hiked with the stone of another soldier but also kept a small stone for her son in one of her hands as she hiked. During our summit ceremony when she began emotionally talking about her son and the soldier who’s stone she carried I don’t think there was a dry eye at the top of that mountain. It was incredibly moving and a day I certainly won’t forget.”
When the hikers returned, with a warm welcome from the Gold Star Families, Patriot Riders and volunteers, the moment became somber as the hikers came off the buses one by one carrying the memorial and spirit stones in their hands. As the families, hikers, Riders and TSP members began forming a large circle, the sun broke through the clouds casting golden rays over the ceremony. Each hiker came to the center of the circle stating the name of their soldier to be met by the family or a representative of the family. They shared words of thanks, gratitude, and honor.
There was time to visit with the families and hikers over a great meal, by the campfire or at the water’s edge. The families brought an amazing uplifting spirit with them. This is a special project that brings these families together where they can support one another; share their stories, create new bonds and reflect on the good that continues to be inspired by their loved ones. This event truly embodied what the intentions of The Summit Project are; to inspire service, strengthen communities, change lives and ensure that Maine Heroes are NOT Forgotten.
Brett Johnson wrote:
Sacrifice, Gratitude, Family and Love of Country are the words that have stuck with me since taking part in The Summit Project Hike on October 17. This day was filled with such pride and was openly shared by so many from all walks of life and joining together to share the stories, shed tears and celebrating in this life that we live free due in great part to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
On this day this day I carried the Spirit Stone “Country”. I carried the stone side by side with my team members knowing that it is a great country that supports its veterans and honors those who gave so much so that we can live freely. I listened to the stories knowing that in the telling we do our part to keep their memories alive.
I was prepared for the hike and the rigors of the day but what I was not prepared for was the sense of community, love and support of my team members and the larger TSP family. The range of emotions that were shared by hikers, volunteers and most of all the Gold Star Families proved that we are so much better when we come together as one in honor of our family members who are lost but never forgotten. I now feel that I am part of a family whos love knows no bounds.