EASLEY — You may have seen him, American flag over his shoulder and a smile on his face as Pastor Walter “Chick” McGill made his way through Easley on the shoulder of S.C. 123 on June 24. If you did, you might have wondered what he was doing.
According to McGill, he was answering a higher calling to deliver a message to America, part of which he admits is taken directly from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
“I am promoting a new birth of freedom and integrity in America,” McGill said. “I’m trying to raise awareness to the Ten Commandments, the golden rule, and our founding documents.”
McGill was “sampling the homeless lifestyle in Arizona, sleeping in a tent” when he was awoken and received what he describes as a message from God.
“God woke me up and told me to walk across America. I hadn’t been watching Forest Gump or anything,” he explained with a chuckle. “All I said was ‘God, don’t you think you’ve got the wrong person, I’m 67 years old. Why don’t we find a young guy to do this?’”
McGill considered the matter closed until the same event occurred two more consecutive nights, and his mind was made up.
With the help of a friend in California and the support of his wife, Barbara, along with parishioners from his former church, McGill departed Kill Devil Hills, N.C., and will traverse the continental United States, ending at Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif.
According to McGill, God put a question to him prompting the purpose of the walk in an effort to raise awareness. The question?
“We spend a lot of time and money to honor the dead with places like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and other notable people,” McGill said. “God asked, ‘What are we doing to honor the living?’ I’m having 10 to 12 roadside encounters a day, people thanking me for what I’m doing, and they don’t even know what it is I’m doing. I’m carrying the American flag and saluting every motorist that goes by.”
Even this early in the 3,000 mile trek, the wear and tear has already begun.
“I’ve suffered a lot in the walk physically, but spiritually and mentally I’m fine because I’m sure of what I’m doing,” McGill said. “Physically I knew it was going to be tough and I’ve felt like crying more than once.”
Without banners and fanfare McGill is hoping his actions will speak for themselves and remind Americans of what he sees as the backbone of America. He hopes to reach his destination during the Christmas holidays.