Wineka column: Walking for wounded, Lord will wave flags all the way to Fort Bragg
SALISBURY — Tim Lord's backpack weighs in at 42 pounds. The belly bag strapped to his front holds a change of clothes, beef jerky and knives.
But the most essential thing Lord, 59, is carrying on his walk to Fort Bragg over the next week are embroidered U.S. and Christian flags attached to a long PVC pipe.
He'll be holding and waving those flags above his head for the entire trip, which Lord calculates to be about 120 miles.
To start his journey, the retired Kannapolis Police officer was to leave from Pfeiffer College about 5 a.m. today. When he reaches Fort Bragg next week, Lord will be delivering the money he raised for the Wounded Warriors Project.
Each week in Sunday School at Bethpage Wesleyan, Lord would write down on the blackboard where his total contributions stood. His Sunday School classmates couldn't believe the number as it continued to grow.
Five weeks ago, Lord set a goal of raising $1,000.
He'll be arriving at Fort Bragg with close to $10,000.
“I really wanted to walk,” Lord says. “To me, it shows I'm not doing it for show, because it's painful.”
Having undergone three back surgeries, Lord knows the walk will be physically challenging. Plus, he won't be winding up his days in a hotel hot tub.
Lord will be pitching a one-man tent and unrolling his sleeping bag nightly. He's hoping he can stay on the grounds of fire stations along the route and maybe steal a shower, too.
Over the past year, you may have seen Lord walking through southern Rowan County or setting up his collection of U.S. and military flags at various locations.
He says he already has carried the U.S. and Christian flags 260 miles in Rowan County alone. Lord displays the flags to support veterans and express his dislike for the way the government sometimes treats them.
Lord also sees the flags as a way to honor veterans such as his uncle, who served in World War II; his father, who served in Korea; and his brother, a Marine who served during the Vietnam era.
David Lord, his minister brother from Wilmington, will accompany Tim on the final leg of his walk to Fort Bragg next week.
As part of his personal collection, Tim Lord has flags representing every branch of the military, the Merchant Marines, a POW/MIA flag and the Christian flag.
“I have a good bit of money in them,” Lord says. “I get a lot of compliments on how the flags look — they don't look bad.”
For Lord, the Christian flag represents his strong feelings of faith and objections to the government's “taking the cross out of everything in this country.”
The founding fathers meant for God to be incorporated into the nation's guiding principles, Lord says, noting one of his favorite quotes from George Washington: “It is impossible to govern a nation without God and the Bible.”
Lord also has strong opinions for gun ownership and against “the current U.S. administration in its socialist endeavors.”
“In my opinion, they're just slaughtering the Constitution,” he says.
Lord's route to Fort Bragg will follow U.S. 52, N.C. 24/27 and N.C. 24. He wants to make it close to the Stanly/Montgomery County line by the end of today.
If he keeps to his itinerary, Lord expects the hike to take a full week.
From the outside, the 5-foot-10 Lord looks as though he's up to the trip. A former weightlifter, he remains muscular and plenty strong enough to carry the 3-foot by 5-foot flags.
As he walks, Lord likely will wear a Confederate cavalry hat, a tribute to ancestors who fought in the Civil War.
Lord proudly displays the tattoo of a Marine “Devil Dog” on his right upper arm in honor of his brother. He said he left off the dog's Marine hat because he never served in the military himself.
Lord's display of flags actually caused a disturbance earlier this year. He describes it as a “politically incorrect mistake.”
On Jan. 9, Lord set up his own memorial to honor four military personnel who had died in recent days — one from the Coast Guard, two Marines and an Air Force veteran (Sharon O'Neil from Enochville).
Lord set up on a vacant lot across from Enochville Food Center and not far from Enochville Elementary School. His memorial display included a 223 rifle strapped to his chest. He stood at attention with the rifle as part of his tribute.
The presence of the rifle led to Enochville Elementary's being placed in lockdown. Deputies told Lord he wasn't breaking the law, but after the owner of Enochville Food Center asked him to put the rifle away, he complied.
“It was clear to everyone that spoke with me that I was not a threat,” Lord says. “I have owned the rifle for over four years, and it has never been loaded or fired.”
Lord participates at times in Patriot Guard motorcycle rides honoring veterans who have died. He has ridden his Harley-Davidson Road King four times across the country, touching all 48 states, and three times across Canada.
Lord and his wife, Patricia, have been married 40 years. They have three grown children and five grandchildren. About three times a week, Lord visits his Alzheimer's-stricken mother, 92, at her nursing home.
Before retiring four years ago, Lord served 23 years with the Kannapolis Police Department. Now, when he's not on a walk or ride, Lord works part-time stocking shelves at the Enochville Food Center, just as a way to keep busy in a low-stress job.
A lot of people know Lord, and just as many believe in his flag-carrying walk for Wounded Warriors.
“I'm going to carry it until I can't,” he says.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or firstname.lastname@example.org.