NEW YORK (WABC) -- More than 100 veterans and advocates marched through New York City Saturday in the 3rd Honor Ruck event, meant to promote social fitness and advocacy for veterans.
The march covers 8.5 miles from Madison Square Park to the 9/11 Memorial.
"It's just an honor to be able to walk," said retired Army Master Sergeant Miriam Soto.
"It's great. It's good camaraderie," said retired Air Force Staff Sergeant Richard Torres.
In military terms, this was a ruck. And ruckin' it is basically a march.
"A ruck, some say it's therapeutic, some say it's forced. In this case it's voluntary," said US Army Reserve Captain Warren Chen with a laugh.
The ruck kicked off at Madison Square Park, where the Veterans Day Parade will start on Monday.
Channel 7 is proud to be the home for the New York City Veterans Day Parade. Watch it live Monday at noon.
As an army veteran I can tell you a ruck can be a true test of your resilience. Sometimes in the middle of the night, 25 miles, with 50 pounds on your back.
On this day, it was a little bit different.
"What's a mandatory ruck like? You're told what to do. You know how it is," said Chen. "0-dark-30 you know what they say right? You got a 40 pound plus ruck on your back. Half asleep, half asleep exactly. I never knew you could sleep walk at the same time."
They stayed awake for this one, and stopped at about half a dozen veterans memorials and monuments along the way, for every generation of veteran.
The 3rd Honor Ruck event was organized by the United War Veterans Council, better known for throwing the annual Veterans Day parade.
"When 25,000 marchers are out there everything's on time, it's cued, it's formal," said Mark Otto of the United War Veterans Council. "This is a way we can get people out. It's social fitness. Everyone is carrying weighted packs. So you can walk and socialize with people and you're burning the equivalent of running calories. We've been at war for 18 years. The global war on terror continues. For the first time we have parents in wars with their children serving side by side. So it's important that every generation of veteran knows their country supports them. They've not been forgotten."
* More Manhattan news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Veterans, advocates march through New York City in 'Honor Ruck' event