Roughly 150 registered participants showed up near the base of Pine Mountain on Friday to participate in March to the Mountain, an 11-mile walk to remember the victims of 9/11 and honor military members and law enforcement officers.
The participants traveled from the mountain across Cartersville to Ingles Market on SR 113 before turning around to come back. As they traversed the town, thousands of United States flags waved in the morning breeze along the side of the road.
“We were out for about five hours last night putting out 3,000 flags down Main Street,” explained Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Patrick Nelson. “And when I drove down Main Street this morning, I got chills. It was incredible. And to see the people out, to see the patriotism, I feel like it’s something that this country’s lacking in right now. And the opportunity to say thank you to the police and fire[fighters] that are here, the veterans, the active duty guys that are out here, it’s awesome.”
March to the Mountain was organized by Dustin Dickens, who moved to Cartersville from St. Louis, Missouri, in 2013 with his wife, Amber, and their three children. While in St. Louis, both Dustin and Amber participated in March to the Arch, a similar event in which participants walk to the landmark Gateway Arch. In 2014, they started March to the Mountain in Cartersville. Now in its second year, Dustin Dickens said he feels the event is a way to show honor and respect.
“Speechless, I would say,” noted Dickens, when asked how he felt just before the walk started. “[There were] nearly 3,000 lives lost on 9/11 14 years ago today, so I feel like this is my appreciation to our community and our first responders. I’m not dropping a dollar in a bucket and walking away. I’m physically walking 11 miles and putting myself through some pain and sacrificing my day and time for the ones that have sacrificed everything.”
Amber Dickens shared the same sentiment.
“[It’s] such an important day that should never be forgotten, so it’s kind of nice that a whole bunch of people get together to really remember this day and what happened on this day and what our troops do for our country,” she said.
Some showed up to the event mainly because of their military ties.
“[I have] two boys in the military that made me feel like this was needed to show the support for them,” Mary Ann Pawlowski said.
One of Pawlowski’s sons has been in the military for five years, and the other is a member of ROTC. Alongside her as the event was about to begin was Michelle Crowe, who said she attended the event simply to support its underlying mission.
“I’ve heard about it on the radio ... and I decided the way I feel, I wanted to do something to be patriotic, to support our troops, support our firefighters and our policemen,” Crowe explained. “A lot of things are going on in the world today, and I think they need some support behind them. And I’m proud to be American, and I have that opportunity to walk and I wanted to do that today.”
The event was put on completely by volunteer efforts with the support of local businesses and the community. Sponsors of the event included Robert Loehr Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, NorthSide Bank, Ideal Sports, Owen Security Solutions, Marsna Design, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Shottenkirk Honda of Cartersville. Dickens said that, beyond the 150 registered participants, more people were expected to jump in along the way.