The following is the journal entry by staff writer Deirdre Fleming, who was given Army Sgt. Nathan C. Stewart’s stone to carry up Cadillac Mountain last weekend as part of The Summit Project. The journal entry appears on the group’s website at mainememorial.org:

“I joined The Summit Project hike on Nov. 22 at Acadia National Park to do a story on this effort for the Maine Sunday Telegram Outdoors section. My intent was to be an observer, not to become a part of the story, in keeping with journalistic ethics. But sometimes our shared humanity trumps professional prerequisites. So it was that I found myself stopping a third of the way up Dorr Mountain and telling the group I felt I needed a stone. As luck should have it, Em Malone of Boston, a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and The Summit Project, had brought two. She knelt down, reached into her pack and handed me Army Sgt. Nathan Stewart’s stone.

“Em told me Nathan’s life story as we hiked so that I could honor him appropriately at the summit of Cadillac Mountain, and I felt a small connection with the soldier I was honoring. His stone came from Acadia, a place he loved and visited often. And the park was my first introduction to Maine’s magical outdoor landscape 19 years ago. Four years later I would begin a career as an outdoor journalist in Maine that’s lasted 15 years and counting. So the beauty of Acadia has personal meaning for me, as it did for Nathan.

“But as I read more of Nathan’s life story now I find it strange the other similar interests we share: That Nathan, too, had an Australian cattle dog he cherished, a friend who happened to be named Panda. My first dog, who nearly joined our hike, is an Aussie cattle mix. And I have a panda collection that’s been growing for 40 years since my dad first started giving me panda gifts. In addition, my mountain-bike friends would say I ride through Maine’s mountains with a reckless zest for adventure, just as Nathan lived his life, traveling through other countries, climbing up rock faces and scuba diving under the ocean.

“These coincidences are small. But since Nathan also was a man who believed in justice and equality for all, I feel perhaps these shared passions and interests may be more than coincidence. Perhaps Sgt. Nathan Stewart wants The Summit Project’s story to be told more than his own. And his rock finding its way into my pack was his way of asking me to do that.”

– Deirdre Fleming