In a recent post, I recounted my experiences snowshoeing up Borestone Mountain carrying a memorial stone in honor of a young soldier, PFC Tyler Springmann. Some may be wondering why I did this and who organizes these hike. I’d like to post a short description of why a bunch of people would hike a mountain in the middle of winter with stones in our backpacks.
For me, its pretty simple. I’m the son of a Vietnam vet and have always had a special place in my heart for our military. I like hiking. My father was Pastor of a church in Berlin, N.H. and I have fond memories of climbing Mt. Washington with him along with my brother. My two boys have caught the hiking bug and we have been making memories together.
So when my brother-in-law told me about this group called The Summit Project, described the hike that he took with them, and shared the emotions he felt during the trek, I immediately knew this was something I wanted to do with my boys. It seemed to me a perfect marriage of a couple of passions that I have. I also thought this was a great way to help instill in my sons a healthy respect for our soldiers and a better understanding of the solemn magnitude of the price of freedom.
What is The Summit Project? The Summit Project is the culmination of a vision David Cote had to find a unique way to honor fallen warriors with more than just a token sentiment, but something that required some sort of sacrifice by the living to honor the dead. He conceived this idea while hiking with Navy Seals in the mountains of California. When the Seals reached the summit they pulled stones from their pack and piled them in small hidden area to honor any Seals that had fallen in battle that past year. For Dave Cote, who watched in admiration, this quiet ritual was the seed of a dream for The Summit Project, planted by the Navy Seals on mountain in California.
What if everyday civilians from Maine took the time to learn the story of a fallen soldier, carried took a stone etched with his name and rank, gave the simple sacrifice of climbing to the top of a mountain with that memorial stone, and on that mountain gave a public remembrance of that fallen warrior? Perhaps that short hike would give civilians just a little taste of what our soldiers do for us on a daily basis. There is something about being in nature surrounded by its majesty that makes one realize there are things in life much bigger than one’s self.
The Summit Project is apolitical. What that means is that it is non-partisan, non-political. Some might find this hard to believe, but the fact that it is politically neutral is one of the major reasons I find The Summit Project so appealing. I hope it stays neutral. It’s the way it should be.
As I told Dave Cote, its nice to have a place where we can lay down the hammer and tongs and step away from the heat for a while. Don’t get me wrong! I have no intention of abandoning my opinions and my campaigns, but there is something grand about Americans from all political stripes coming together and honoring those who give them the freedom to pick up those ideological hammer and tongs and go at it.
Maine’s First Lady Ann LePage and First Lady Michelle Obama have endorsed the Summit Project. If that isn’t bi-partisan I don’t know what is. TMCV recommends that our readers check out The Summit Project at their website. Do a hike to honor Maine’s fallen warriors or, if hiking is out of the question, check out ways that you can volunteer. Go to The Maine Summit Project’s website or like them on Facebook.