As Wentworth got older, he was bothered by the number of veterans he saw cast aside, homeless and begging for money on the street corners in his hometown of Boston. He was more troubled by the stories of veterans who were battling to receive the benefits that had been promised to them.
“It should be so much easier for them to get what they need,” Wentworth said. “It should be automatic.”
He decided to do something to raise awareness for the plights of the veterans and to let those in the service know what people across the country have to say to them.
“I decided my ‘thank you’ wasn’t enough, so I wanted to get as many as I could to show the people what they are fighting for.”
Wentworth left Boston on Veteran’s Day last year, he walked down the East Coast, encountering snow in every city, except Georgia and Alabama.
He hopes to make it to his ultimate destination — Los Angeles, Calif. — by the Fourth of July, but said that would be decided by weather conditions as he walks.
He estimates he’s walked about 2,500 miles so far, armed only with a cart that carries his sleeping bag, tent and other basic supplies, including MREs like those the soldiers eat. He usually travels 20 to 30 miles a day, although he said that depends on the terrain and weather.
Mostly, Wentworth said he camps out, but he does occasionally get a hotel room for the night so he can have a shower and rest before setting out again. He also said he has met some nice people who have called ahead to help make arrangements for him to have a place to stay.
Asked if he ever worries about his safety as he walks along or camps along the side of busy roads, Wentworth replies that he is careful, but trusts that he will be safe throughout his journey, even as large trucks and speeding cars whiz close by him.
“The Good Lord is going to soften people’s hearts and protect me with an army of angels,” he said confidently.
Wentworth entered Walker County via U.S. Highway 78 Wednesday and was trying to make it to Jasper because he had a reservation for the night at the Travel Rite Inn. This morning, he will start out again, headed for Memphis, where he hopes to honor Elvis’ service in the military.
“I would love to be able to say ‘Thank you, thank you very much,’” he laughed.
In the meantime, Wentworth hopes drivers continue to stop and talk to him about his mission. He only asks one thing from those who he meets — a picture and message of gratitude for the troops.
“They are the backbone of this country, and we should give them the respect they deserve,” he said.
Follow Wentworth’s trip at www.facebook.com/walkingforheroes.