On September 11, members of the University of Southern Maine community marched nearly ten miles from the Portland campus to the Gorham campus as part of the Summit Project Ruck. Project Ruck is USM’s way of participating in The Summit Project’s living memorial founded by Marine major Dave Cote. Each participant honored a single fallen hero by carrying a stone that was carefully selected by a surviving family member, and shared the veteran’s story at certain stops along the route.

Omar Andrews, president of Huskie Vets, said that, “USM serves the most veterans of any school in Maine and is the heart of the Southern Maine community.” He stated that there are approximately 500 veterans using the GI Bill at USM and about 30 of them are actively involved in the organization’s activities.

Camden Ege, USM’s Veterans’ Services Coordinator and an Air Force veteran, worked to bring The Summit Project to campus. “One in ten Mainers is a veteran, the third highest per capita in the nation. This year marks the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, an event that impacted all of our service members. For many of the veterans hiking, these attacks led to our decision to serve. This hike is a way of honoring sacrifice and uniting the community,” he said.

USM’s Veterans Services is an on-campus resource for veterans, service members, and their families that assists in the transition from combat to the classroom.

Photo credit Roger Marchand
Participants in USM’s Project Ruck are shown near the end of the march at the USM Gorham campus on September 11. After each march, the rocks are carefully collected and stored in cloth bags to be used during another march.