GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A pair of West Michigan teenagers organized a 13-mile walk to pay tribute to the 13 soldiers recently killed in Afghanistan.
Austin Coleman, a freshman at Byron Center High School, and CJ Karman, a junior at Wayland High School, started the trek Monday morning at Van Andel Arena.
“I just believe that they need more recognition and they deserve way more than what they do come home to,” Coleman said.
The long-time friends walked throughout Grand Rapids and, at times, alongside other family and friends. The journey took them as far as Forest Hills Northern High School near East Beltline and Leonard Street.
“They didn’t have to do what they did,” said Karman. “They were fighting for us.”
According to the teens, they found out about the deaths of the service members through social media. While discussing the event with each other afterwards, they thought this would be a simple gesture to show support for the families impacted and advocated for better veteran resources.
“It was just a sad moment,” said Coleman. “It was a tragedy."
Coleman and Karman said both of their families have histories of serving in the military. Coleman added he’d like to enlist in the future.
Both of the young men hope it inspires people to do something over the following weeks to commemorate what the sacrifices made by the men and women who died.
“Some are married and some are leaving their family behind, their kids,” Coleman said. “It’s just not right for them to not get what they deserve.”