In honor of Memorial Day, a U.S. Navy veteran of the war in Afghanistan has memorized the names of more than 2,300 fallen U.S. military from the war and has honored them by writing their names on a wall, all from memory.
Riverside County is home to more than 132,000 veterans, many of whom likely served in Afghanistan.
Memorial Day is historically a time for Americans to honor members of the U.S. military who gave up their lives to serve their beloved country. For Ron White, remembering the war-dead, specifically those from Afghanistan, takes on a life of its own.
White is a memory expert who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2007. Upon returning from Afghanistan, he set the record for the fastest to memorize a deck of shuffled cards in the USA, and won back-to-back USA Memory Championships in 2009 and 2010.
In 2012, he set out on the greatest, and perhaps most significant, memory challenge of his life – to memorize the fallen men and women from the war in Afghanistan in the order of their death. It took White 10 months to memorize the more than 7,000 words, which included (rank, and first name and last name of each member who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
He travels the nation with a 52-foot wall that resembles the Vietnam Wall and he writes these names from memory to simply say, ‘You are not forgotten.’ Imagine you are watching the Vietnam Wall being hand-written out in front of you by a person doing it from memory. That is what this tribute is like, except the focus is Afghanistan.
“If I was a painter, I would’ve painted a portrait. If I was a singer I would’ve written a song,” White said in a video released by the United Services Automobile Association. “It only made sense to use my memory.”
According to ABC News, White began memorizing the names after being inspired by a trip to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington.
“A couple of years ago, I was looking at the Vietnam Wall and just started thinking, ‘What’s the Afghanistan memorial going to look like?’” White said. “Then I started thinking about that, and I thought, ‘I wonder if I could memorize the Vietnam Wall’ and that evolved into ‘Wait a minute, why don’t you memorize the names from Afghanistan? That’s the war you served in.’”
White has now launched a podcast that tells the stories of the fallen from the war in Afghanistan. Tom Brokaw wrote a book, ‘The Greatest Generation’ that told the World War II generation’s stories. This podcast tells the stories of the heroes from the war in Afghanistan. The podcast can be found at www.americasmemory.com
In episode 1, you will hear the story of the Afghanistan Memory Wall. Episode 2, you’ll hear the letters 1 LT Todd Weaverwrote to his wife Emma and daughter that they received upon his death. In episode 3, you’ll hear the story of Pfc Austin Staggs, the young boy from Weatherford, TX, so full of life. Every week, new episodes will be released.
This podcast tells the stories of this nation’s heroes.