Mr. Ueckert goes to WashingtonWhen you walk a mile with Ross Ueckert, you learn a lot about one of his philosophies in life: Stand up for what you believe in. Not only will he be standing for what he believes in, he’ll be walking too, come rain or shine.
By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press
When you walk a mile with Ross Ueckert, you learn a lot about one of his philosophies in life: Stand up for what you believe in.
Not only will he be standing for what he believes in, he’ll be walking too, come rain or shine.
Ueckert, 54, started out on a near 1,700-mile trek to Washington, D.C., on foot, to demonstrate his disagreement with today’s politics.
Wearing new sneakers, a “Meet me in D.C.” T-shirt and listening to an MP3 player filled with old-time radio shows, Ueckert said he doesn’t plan to fail on his mission: To make it to the Lincoln Memorial.
A Beach native, Ueckert said he felt the need to walk to D.C. after seeing what he believes is a downfall of American politics.
He says he’s been watching politics since about 1980 through the Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton years, “and it just seems to me that everyone says they are going to change things and start being ethical for everybody,” Ueckert said. “It just seems like they are lying and nothing changes up in Washington, D.C.”
The government is different than when he was growing up, Ueckert said.
“(In schools) the Constitution, it’s just being glossed over, the Bill of Rights the Declaration of Independence, they’ve taken God out schools. This isn’t a religious thing, I’m just trying to be honest,” Ueckert said. “With the liberal attitude the people in Congress have not only today but in the past it seems to me they want to take control of the people.”
Ueckert began his journey a few days ago, beginning in Medora at the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, as tribute to Roosevelt and his beliefs. Ueckert plans to end his walk at the Lincoln Memorial, another tribute to a man and his beliefs.
Federal programs and policies are a long way from what the founding fathers put forward when they built the country, Ueckert said.
“I looked at our present government and it’s so far from what it’s supposed to be,” Ueckert said. “The liberals have taken our country so far to the left. If I was a Democrat right now, I’d be running away from the Democratic Party because they are so far way from the middle it’s unbelievable. That’s what I’m protesting.”
Ueckert, who is a woodcarver by trade, will be traveling with his sister Myrna Miller, also of Beach. Miller will be following Ueckert with a Dodge pickup.
Ueckert, who is admittedly a smoker and out of shape, said he hopes to quit along the trip and get back into shape.
He estimates he could walk up to 25 miles a day. Ueckert said the journey will likely take more than two months.
“My goal is to have people meet me in D.C.,” Ueckert said. “If people meet me there, let’s talk. Let’s let the people in Washington know that they can’t get away with the things they’ve been getting away with. Enough is enough.”
Ueckert has two children, Kayla, 17, and Conner, 16. He and his wife Kim have been married for 20 years.
He said his wife and daughter are against his plan and he thinks his son is for it.
“A lot of people call me crazy,” Ueckert said. “But then people tell me to keep going and keep doing it. I’ve got people honking at me while I’m carrying the flag on the Interstate.”
As he made his way from Medora to Dickinson, Ueckert said he made up a slogan for his journey: Me, one person, plus you, one person, equals we the people.
“I, as one man, cannot do anything, but we the people can,” Ueckert said.
His ideal turnout, he added, would be to have 10 million people at the Lincoln Memorial and for Washington, D.C. to be shut down for two weeks.
“If nobody shows up, at least I tried,” he said.
An Army veteran who is on Social Security, he feels having the government take care of him “puts him a box,” and he hopes to get off of Social Security.
“The government cannot take care of everybody. It was not set up that way,” Ueckert said.
While he knows not everyone will agree with his views, Ueckert said he’d be glad to speak with anyone.
Ueckert encourages those who’d like to talk to him to call his cell phone at 701-218-0137. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Ueckert plans to leave mile marker 66 on I-94 near Gladstone today.
“I’ve got a lot of steps ahead of me and I don’t know what waits out there for me,” Ueckert said as he walked along Interstate 94 heading east. “But I’ll do it one step at a time. One way or another I’ll get there. Whatever happens, it’s in God’s hands.”
Ueckert will share video updates on YouTube. To see his videos, visit www.youtube.com and search under his username, woodsman6119.