By Sgt. Neil W. McCabe/XVIII Abn. Corps and Fort Bragg PAOFebruary 4, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - For Lance Robinson, the task is simple, walk each state capital to advocate for Sept. 10 to be officially recognized as Brother-to-Brother Day, a day for active-duty military personnel and veterans to celebrate their bonds. On Jan. 25, he visited Fort Bragg, while on his way from Raleigh, N.C. to Columbia, S.C.
"It is about the honor we show to the men and women, who have sacrified for the last 10 years. It is about the older veterans, who are slowly slipping away to age," said Lance E. Robinson, a Marine Corps veteran.
He served from 1974 to 1978 as a repair technician and military police officer in Okinowa, Japan and Camp LeJeune, N.C.
"The Brother-to-Brother Day will also give honor and inspiration to the young veterans, who are out there struggling, contemplating suicide, or are jobless or homeless--we have tons of them struggling all over this country," he said.
On Sept. 10 those serving and those who have served would come together to help each other and give each other strength, he said.
The mission began with another march that Robinson completed from Aug.1 to Aug. 17 from his home in Belmont, Pa., to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of military personnel killed in 2010, he said.
As he was walking into Gettysburg, Pa., he had the idea of a grander tribute, he said.
While at Fort Bragg, Robinson visited post landmarks, such at the Iron Mike statue and the eternal flames dedicated to those who have fallen while serving since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
At the eternal flame, Robinson happened upon the re-enlistment ceremony for Staff Sgt. Jason M. Schaefer, a Soldier with the 16th Military Police Brigade and at the Soldiers Support Center he met with wounded warriors. After a tour of Pope Air Force Base, the walking-man visited with Soldiers of the 82th Combat Aviation Brigade.
Robinson began his trek Sept. 10, and since then he has walked between 12 to 20 miles per day and visited 12 state capitals, he said. From his house, his first stop was to make his case to civic leaders starting in Annapolis, Md. and making his way through the capitals of Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Virginia before reaching North Carolina.
After reaching Columbia, Robinson said he will visit the capitals of Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana and then Austin, Texas. "That's as far as I have planned out so far."
He said he knows his route zip-zags north, south, east and west, but he has to take into account the weather and which state capitals are closer to each other.
"This is not a total walking tour. I do not say that I am walking every single step," he said.
"The purpose of this mission is to visit every state capital, mostly on foot," he said.
"I do take transportation from time-to-time because of the hazards on the roads and in the certain cities that are heavily populated with crowed streets, otherwise it would endanger not only myself, but the average person with a traffic accident."
In large part because of the donations he has collected along the way, Robinson said since his first seven nights walking through Maryland, he has not had to spend the night outdoors. "I have been blessed ever since."
Robinson said he still thinks about the cub scout who forced him to take a $20 bill. "I didn't want to take it, but I had to take it because he kept forcing me and because he wanted to be a part of the mission."
The coldest weather the Marine veteran encountered was in Albany, N.Y., he said. He is not sure the actual temperature. "I am very sure it had fallen below zero."
Heat has not been a problem, but it was very hot during his August march to Arlington, he said.
"The best meal I ever had so far was when I was hosted for four days in Maine by Daniel Meade with his family for Thanksgiving, " he said.
Along the way, it is common for people to stop Robinson to encourage and support him, he said.
"I've met mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, veterans, active-duty, police officers and firefighters. I have met people from all aspects of our country, so far - rich, poor and middle-income with kids," he said.
"We share their feelings about what the mission is doing for them."
Once a state trooper pulled over to see what Robinson was doing, because he had not yet heard about the mission, he said.
"After I explained what I was doing, he told me that he found it unreal that he lived through the Iraq War, but his two brothers were killed over there. 'I see them every day,' he told me," the Marine veteran said.
"It is such an awesome, awesome feeling to be there for so many people. What ends up happening is that we are both crying, both praying. It is very moving."