News 12 at 11 o'clock / Friday, June 22, 2012
EDGEFIELD, S.C. -- If you're walking down Highway 25 during the next week, you might notice Mac McQuown. He'll be walking down the side of the road in full military combat gear.
"I've had people yell obscenities at me who thought I was homeless," he said.
McQuown is far from homeless. He spent eight years in the Marines. Today, he's retired at age 51, but found a new career on the side.
"I thought, well, if I can't fight for my country anymore, I'll fight for veterans' rights because I keep seeing them get taken away," he said.
He's fighting for them by walking to all 50 capitol steps. So far, he's walked more than 1,000 miles. When all is said and done, he'll have walked about 15,000 miles. It's a trip he expects to take six years completing, and he's about eight months into it.
McQuown began walking September 11, 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He hit Ground Zero on his walk.
"It's extremely humbling," he said, "It taught me that you have to live every day to the fullest. Carpe Diem, you've just got to grab life by the horns and just live."
While in New York, McQuown heard a story that inspired him to keep walking.
It was a story of a 22-year-old Army veteran, Brendan Morroco.
"An IED blew off all four limbs and his left eye," McQuown said. "Every day that I hit these hills, and it's hot, and I'm tired and my feet hurt, I just think of Brendan. What have I got to complain about?" he asked.
Now, his journey brings him to Edgefield, and with each stop, comes a new story for McQuown.
"I got to sleep in the bedroom where Strom Thurmond was born," he said.
And perhaps the final chapter worth of stories will be at the end of his 15,000-mile trek at Arlington National Cemetery.
"That's symbolic," McQuown explained.
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