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HCHS 22-mile walk scheduled to honor veterans

Harlan County High School student Brett Roark has devised a new way to honor fallen veterans and current service men and women by organizing a Veterans’ Day 22-mile March at the Harlan County High School football stadium.

Roark said the event is in memory of the men and women who gave their lives serving our country, as well as to bring awareness to the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day after returning home.

“In Harlan, you’ve got coal miners and you’ve got vets. That’s probably the two most important things known to this county,” Roark said. “I feel like not enough stuff is done for the veterans. They need a lot more recognition than they get because they don’t get enough.”

Roark spoke of the brave way thousands of men and women went out of their way every day to risk their lives fighting for the country, sacrificing their time for their fellow Americans.

“That goes unappreciated by a lot of people every day. You can never do enough for them,” Roark said.

The 22-mile march will begin at 11:30 a.m. on Monday for any organization wishing to participate. Roark said since the march is during school, students won’t be allowed to join in the march unless their teacher wants to bring them outside.

The National Guard, Appalachian Challenge Academy and JROTC members will also be participating. If your group wishes to join, contact SGT Mason McGuire at the National Guard office.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., Roark said the program will open to the public. The HCHS JROTC color guard will present the colors, followed by the National Anthem performed by the HCHS choir.

Roark said a few “distinguished speakers” will make their way onto the field to speak, including retired Major Tim McElyea, SGT Mason McGuire, retired SFC Scott B. Johnson and retired SSG Jimmy Langley. Retired SFC James Carroll, who is a Gold Star Family member, will also speak at the event.

Roark added donations will also be taken up to support currently deployed Kentucky National Guard troops through their Family Readiness Groups. Needed items include personal hygiene products, toothbrushes, letter envelopes, deodorant, coffee, breakfast bars, jerky, SlimJims, trail mix, Rolaids, antacids, anti-itch cream, nasal spray, snack cookies, foot powder, individual packs of snack crackers/nuts, shampoo (small containers) and packaged candies.

Roark said the public will be invited to finish the last mile of the 22-mile march in memory of all veterans and their families.

The event is sponsored as a Rogers Scholar service project, in cooperation with the Harlan County School District, HCHS JROTC, ACA, Cub Scout Pack 149 and the National Guard.

For more information regarding participation in the event, contact Roark at brettroark1@gmail.com or call the high school at 606-574-2020 to speak with him.