Washington – A 70-year-old retired Chicago police detective, Phil Szpicki, never served in the military, but says he owed it to his country to help, MyFoxDC reports.
Szpicki is walking 1,000 miles, visiting each of the three 9/11 sites. He started his journey in August from his home in Rockford, Illinois and averages about 18 miles a day.
"I'm sitting on my couch, on my butt, breathing free air. Looking at the pictures of those boys - men and women that are coming home shot to pieces and in coffins, and I'm thinking I never made my payment and freedom isn't free,” he said. “A few years ago, I got the idea in my head, like a song you can't get rid of. And I couldn't shake it," Szpicki told MyFoxDC.
Along the way, he takes it all in.
"I gained ten pounds before I started. I figured on lean days, I could live off my body fat. When I left Indiana, I had gained two pounds. That's how well they had taken care of me," said Szpicki.
"I've been to the Antietam Battlefield. I've been to Gettysburg. That's sacrifice. When you see a tombstone that says 28 dead - unknown - that's what sacrifice is,” Szpicki said. “They sent a young man home to Rockford who had no arms and legs. That's sacrifice. Me being a policeman, I had my moments. But nothing compared to a person in the military actually giving his life."
Szpicki has encountered very generous people along his route who have opened their doors to him.
"People that have taken care of me. People have encouraged me. Brought me into their homes even though I was a stranger, to give me a night's rest," said Szpicki.
Szpicki is paying his own way, so any money he raises goes towards wounded warriors.
It is a small feat compared to fighting a war, but it is still much appreciated.