The annual Sept. 11 March to the Arch started in 2002 when Bo Drochelman took the American flag from the front porch of his Kirkwood home and walked to the Gateway Arch.
“It wasn’t well planned, I can tell you that,” Drochelman said. He wanted to do something that would honor those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, and was a personal sacrifice. So he left a note for his wife, and started walking.
“One of the things that I experienced on that very first walk was the kindness of the people who saw me,” Drochelman said. “I’m not even sure they knew — they just knew ‘Here’s this guy on 9/11 walking on Clayton Road with a flag over his shoulder.’ People were waving, honking ... saluting the flag.”
Drochelman had already decided he would repeat the walk annually. When his children found out what he’d done, they wanted to join. Since then, hundreds of people have walked the 21-mile March to the Arch route.
“On our 10th anniversary, we had over 800 people walking with us,” Drochelman said.
This year’s march will start near Highway 141 and Clayton Road at 9:11 a.m. Thursday. The march takes seven to eight hours, depending on how many marchers there are. The group makes several stops along the way; walkers also can join the march from those points.
Paul Carlock joined the first group march in 2003. Thursday’s march will be his 11th.
“It ends up being a lot more motivational for us and meaningful for us walkers than we set out to be for the motorists who see us,” Carlock said. “It just renews my hope for America, my spirit and our unity.”
After they reach the Arch, walkers will be bused back to the checkpoint where they joined.
March to the Arch
When: 9:11 a.m. Sept. 11, 2014
Where: The march starts at Mike Duffy’s Pub and Grill at Clayton and Woodsmill roads in Town & Country. There a number of jump-on points along the route including: Wells Fargo, 10369 Clayton Road; the Ladue Fire Station, Price and Clayton roads; Mike Duffy’s Pub & Grill, Clayton Road east of Big Bend; the Missouri History Museum, Lindell Boulevard in Forest Park; and Saint Louis University’s Tegler Hall on Lindell Boulevard.
Cost: Free; sign up at marchtothearch.com/register.html
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