The magic of TSP continues. Here is the writeup from the latest tribute trek. This team asked for a way to honor the memories of fallen US Marines from Maine and particularly those Marines who had given their lives in Afghanistan. They did exactly that.
Remember – Anyone can be part of this living memorial. All you have to promise is that you will honor the fallen by challenging the living and do everything you can to ensure that Maine heroes are NOT forgotten.
Here are the post hike reflections from that team of hikers.
To the Bernard Family,
Your son makes me proud to be from Maine. I was deeply honored to carry his memory sake up Old Speck Mountain in Newry, Maine. When my sister first brought the Summit Project to my attention I thought it was a great idea and looked forward to carrying LCpl Joshua Bernard’s stone up Old Speck. . . But, I have to admit, I really wasn’t prepared for the intense feelings I would have in getting to know him better. Everything I’ve read and watched indicates that he was a truly special person with a strong character, integrity and deep commitment to service. I couldn’t help but feel his presence during the hike, particularly knowing that he was fond of hiking and that he grew up not far from the mountain. I also recalled his sister’s description of his humor and ability to make her laugh when she was grumpy—and I tried to channel some of this spirit myself when the mood soured and people became tired….
I am a new mom (as well as a sister, daughter and fellow avid Maine hiker); it took me several weeks to watch your family testimony start to finish.
What a gift he was to all of us.
Thank you for sharing Josh’s story and stone
—and thank you for your sacrifice.
Erina White, LICSW, MPH, doctoral candidate
From Erina’s husband Zach —
I was privileged to have the opportunity to carry1st Lt. James R. Zimmerman’s stone up Old Speck. What a beautiful day. What a beautiful cause. I was touched watching Tom and Jane Zimmerman’s video capturing the essence of James’s life, dedication to service, and his curiosity of others with undertones of seeing the overall goodness in humans.
I usually hike with my 2 year old daughter Summer on my back which i have learned to get used to, but the weight of James’s stone, his presence, and overall meaning of the Summit Project quickly made itself known as we ascended Old Speck. At the most challenging parts of the hike when one is most apt to become self-involved, I was reminded by Tom to think about others, I thought about the ultimate sacrifice that James made, and how thankful I am for his service and the upbringing his wonderful parents provided him. This was truly an emotional and spiritual journey.
Its funny the hike is long over and I think of Jane’s heartfelt words almost daily when my daughter who is truly a daddy’s girl is giving my wife Erina a hard time and of course i tell her to be nice to her mama.
I have attached 4 photos, I took one photo from Old Speck’s fire tower facing Smyrna. I hope to get the opportunity to hike with James again.
Thank you for creating such a meaningful program.
ZACH THOMPSON LMHC, LSW
AND from Erina’s sister Kirsten White —
On September 4, 2014, I had the honor of carrying Cpl Mark Goyet’s stone on a tribute hike up Old Speck Mountain in Newry, Maine. My sister, brother-in-law, and 2-year-old niece rounded out our team, carrying the stones of two other fallen Maine heroes.
I was honored that Mark’s mother Martha shared with me some stories about Mark before I picked up his stone. Through our correspondence, I learned that Mark was fun-loving, athletic, kind, a loving and doting uncle to his nieces and nephews, and a loyal and generous friend. But what struck me most is his sense of service-over-self – something that started long before he entered the Marine Corps. I’ve found that this is characteristic is common among almost all of those who have volunteered to serve our country. For Mark, it was the fabric of his life – the core of his person. He was always helping friends and doing anything he could to make life easier for the people around him. His family is still learning about his many acts of kindness that touched so many people Mark encountered in his too-short life. I will always be grateful to Martha for sharing those special memories with me.
As we hiked up Old Speck, my family and I shared stories of the fallen heroes we had gotten to know over the course of the prior week; I had begun to think of them as “the brothers,” as I carefully transported their stones around the state. When I talked about Mark, I told stories of him taking in a friend who needed a place to stay, offering car rides to people, and lending a hand to just about anyone who needed it. We laughed as I shared the time Martha asked her son to take care of a tricky household task, and she had come home from work to find that he had made a little too much fun out of the mission. He hadn’t quite accomplished what she had asked for, but he gave his mother belly laughs for years.
The first portion of the hike is steep and rocky, following switchbacks along a roaring waterfall. We got quiet as we grew fatigued traversing the boulders and large tree routes on the trail. I imagined Mark telling me to not look up at what lay ahead and how far we had to go, but instead to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. That became my hiking cadence, and the more I “heard” him in my ear, the more his stone felt less like weight and more like the gentle push I needed, encouraging me with every step.
I like to think that during the 48 hours I cared for Mark’s stone, some of his goodness rubbed off on me, and I will continue to strive to live a life worthy of his service. I still hold Mark’s memory close, and in the weeks since our tribute hike, I have thought of him often. Now and then, I have found myself in a position to lend a hand to a stranger, and I’ve tried to respond in the way I imagine Mark would have if he were in my position. I hope it is of some comfort to Martha and the rest of Mark’s family that he continues to inspire acts of kindness.
Thank you to Martha and the rest of Mark’s family for allowing me to honor Mark’s memory in this special way. As much as I learned about your amazing son, brother, and uncle, I have marveled at your strength. I will never forget Mark. That is a promise.
Kirsten B. White