By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleSeptember 16, 2011
A man from Stafford County, Va., is traveling through the 48 contiguous states to raise awareness for needs of veteran servicemembers -- with one interesting caveat.
He's making the journey by foot.
Retired Marine Mac McQuown estimates his 15,000 mile trip will take at least four years to complete. He will stop at each state's capital city during his journey.
"I'm too old to fight," said McQuown, offering a reason for why he decided to take up this adventure.
He also believes that he can raise more awareness to the needs of veterans by talking to people he crosses on his way than by giving premeditated speeches.
"I can get millions of people to help our veterans," said McQuown, who wants to remind people that "there are heroes dying everyday."
He started his adventure Monday and has already received positive feedback from people who see him walking along the road.
Wearing his Marine uniform, McQuown treads along with a cart carrying food, tools, two American Flags and first aid.
He's currently moving north towards New York and his plan is to walk back down to Florida and then cross America in the same north south pattern. His hope is that he'll spend winters in the South and summers in the North.
"I'll zigzag all the way to California," said McQuown, who plans on walking 10 to 15 miles per day.
The weather hasn't been too much of an issue to this point.
"Climbing the hills in this humidity is a challenge but I push past it," said McQuown who will only considering stopping progress when weather is unbearable.
Mac McQuown, who served as a sergeant field radio operator in the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines and as an embassy guard in the 2nd Bn. 1st Marines, is motivated by all the veterans who he feels don't' receive the attention they deserve.
"They seem to fall through the cracks of our society and that's a shame," McQuown said. "This is my way of kind of getting in people's faces to help them remember."
When the traveling becomes especially difficult, he'll think of one veteran Soldier in particular who is a leg amputee.
"What do you or I have to complain about?" asked McQuown, who sees himself as fortunate compared to many wounded warriors.
In conjunction with this walk, McQuown has started www.veterans miraclenetwork.com, a website designed to help veterans find items such as housing, food and medical help.
McQuown is prepared to sleep outside at nights throughout his travel, but he'll also be seeking quarters whenever possible. He spent his first night at a volunteer fire department in Woodbridge on Tuesday.
McQuown said this adventure is the biggest task he's ever taken but he's confident he can manage it.