By Sherry M. Adler

As a former Navy Seal sat at a Memorial Day barbecue, he couldn’t join in the festivities. Instead, he focused on the friends he lost in combat. He realized he needed to do something to commemorate the sacrifices made by those who protect our country.

He stood up. He strapped a pack on his back and started walking. Along the way, he encountered another veteran. The two knew instinctively what they were doing and why. One said to the other, “Son, who are you carrying?”

That led to the establishment of Carry the Load, and its mission: “Restoring the true meaning of Memorial Day.”

Laura Rossi, Finance for Xerox Services, and Clay Scheitzach, Office of the General Counsel at Xerox Services, heard this story, and they, too, had to take action. They brought this cause to the attention of colleagues and the company and are mobilizing a growing contingent of support.

Now, for the second season, Laura is coordinating Xerox’s involvement in the Carry the Load Dallas Memorial March. This year, the activity spans 20 hours and 15 minutes; it takes place from Sunday night to Monday afternoon over Memorial Day Weekend.

The Dallas event is the culmination of a 2,000 mile cross-country effort. The Carry the Load Memorial May National Relay begins in West Point, N.Y., and arrives in Dallas during the Dallas Memorial March. Participants join in teams in various locations in a show of gratitude for the efforts of military, law enforcement, firefighters and rescue personnel who dedicate their lives to keep our country and our citizens safe.

“Carry the Load is about thanking the heroes who put everything on the line every day to protect us. They deserve our admiration and appreciation” says Laura.

Laura notes that, although not required as mandatory dress code, a backpack is an item of choice for Team Xerox members who walk at the event. “It’s a symbolic gesture,” she explains, “which connects us even closer to the cause and to one another. You’ll see veterans walking in their full gear, carrying a full pack in honor of those who didn’t return home. It’s incredibly moving.”

Participation is on a no-fee basis. However, Xerox people, friends and family raise funds for this organization, in addition to a contribution from the Xerox Foundation. “Carry the Load promotes this event as a life-changing experience. We on Team Xerox can attest to that,” Laura said. “We consider it a means to remember, honor and celebrate on Memorial Day.”