Veterans Day is a time to honor heroes who have fought for our country and also remember the ones serving today. A group of colleagues at Mercer University is making sure their co-worker fighting overseas knows they're thinking of him every day in the march of the gator.
It all started with a tiny toy.
"Confusion at first. People always wonder why there's a plastic gator in the hallway," said Rachel May, Director of Employee Wellness at Mercer University.
That would be "Freedom" the gator.
"Unfortunately he is a graduate of the University of Florida so that's his mascot so that's how we came up with the gator," explained Adrian Collier, Assistant Director of Employee Wellness at Mercer University.
Lt. Col. Michael Junod left for Afghanistan on July 1, 2011. His colleagues wanted him to know he was missed.
"He was really the one who kind of led the silliness and made the office a really fun place," said May.
Six co-workers in Mercer's Wellness Department make sure "Freedom" the gator marches down the hallway towards Michael's office everyday at 3pm.
"My job was to actually measure the distance from the end of the hallway to Michael's office," explained Todd Thomas, Assistant Director of Recreational Sports & Wellness at Mercer University.
If you divide that by the time Michael's in Afghanistan, 365 days, you get 1.8 inches or 6 squares on the carpet.
"Friday we decided to have a guest mover and kind of bring them in so we either have the Mercer community come in or like his old employees also come in and kind of help us out through it too," said Collier.
A facebook page has been created to capture each day. It includes the many obstacles the gator encounters and the mascots that try to stand in his way. Michael's co-workers say the march is more than fun and games.
"It's about recognizing that somebody we care deeply about if out," said Thomas.
"They're working 18 and 20 hours a day and it's just really miserable so if we just give him that little glimmer of having a good time," said Collier.
"We really want them to know we appreciate them every single day and everyday we miss Michael and wish he was here," said May.
The march goes on until "Freedom" the gator reaches his end goal, Michael's office, on July 1, 2012.