Steady stream of Gold Star families follows river swim

Photo: Legacies Alive Facebook page.

Chris Ring, the Navy veteran who is swimming the length of the Mississippi River in a show of support for the families of soldiers killed in combat, is slowly making his way toward the Twin Cities. But it’s taking a bit longer, perhaps, than expected because he’s running into so many families.

Today is Day 32 of Ring’s swim. He got a late start on Day 31 at Crow Wing State Park yesterday because he met so many families. And he’s just fine with that.

Photos: Legacies Alive Facebook page.

According to Ring’s Facebook page — Legacies Alive — he met with Richard and Gloria Cauley, whose son, George, was killed in 2009; Thomas and Tina McElveen, of Little Falls, Minn., whose boy brother, Anthony, died in Fallujah; Ivan “Bill” Smith, of Grey Eagle, Minn., who lost his son, Paul, in Iraq in 2003 (he was awarded the Medal of Honor); and Scott and Peg Manea, of Rice, Minn., whose son, Jonathon took his own life when home on leave in 2009.

The families he’s meeting along the way sign one of two kayaks accompanying Ring.

Photo: Legacies Alive Facebook page.

Ring tells the Brainerd Dispatch his goal is to be able to walk up to anyone on the street and have the person know what a Gold Star family is.

“The thing that most of them pointed to was, ‘The day that I fear the most is the day my loved one’s name isn’t said,’” he said. “Really, their legacy dies with the last memory.”