Memorial Day

Veteran Walks DFW National Cemetery to Remember Lives Lost

Paul Smith is a retired Army 1st sergeant and a current Dallas Police Officer who has a Memorial Day ritual of walking to remember lives lost.

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On a rain-soaked Memorial Day, Paul Smith put on his walking shoes, strapped on his rucksack, and grabbed a large American flag to walk 12 miles through the rows of gravesites that dot the grounds of DFW National Cemetery.

"This right here, this is training weather for me," Smith said. "I come out and I ruck."

The ruck walk is a throwback to his Army days when the now-retired first sergeant would have to walk 12 miles in under three hours while wearing his rucksack.

"To carry the load," Smith said.

Carrying the load, literally and figuratively, is what Smith did to mark Memorial Day.

"Days like this of remembrance brings back all those feelings and emotions," Smith said. "It's always hard to lose family members, friends, brothers and sisters in arms... and in blue."

Smith is now a Dallas police officer in the city's Southeast Division.

"I'm going to visit one of my fallen comrades, Officer Zamarripa," Smith said, as he walked to the gravesite of the Dallas police officer who was among those killed in the July 7, 2016 Dallas ambush. "His marker is right over there."

Smith knelt at Zamarripa's gravesite and wiped away tears. He did the same at the gravesite of a friend he served alongside in the Army.

"They're more than just stones," Smith said, referring to the gravesite markers as he wiped away tears and explained the weight he carries. "That they're no longer here and I'm still here."

Smith continued on in the rain, logging his 12 miles and remembering those lost along the way.

"They're not forgotten," Smith said. "They're not forgotten."

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