Veteran writes 2,300 fallen heroes’ names from memory

A veteran pays tribute through memorization and 11 hours of writing.

WASHINGTON — On Memorial Day, the nation pauses to remember service members who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Ron White remembers — like no one else.

White has memorized the rank and full name of every service member killed in Afghanistan.

A veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom himself, White returned home in 2008.

“When I returned from Afghanistan, I just started wondering what the Afghanistan Memorial was going to look like,” he says.

But the two-time USA Memory Champion didn’t know immediately how he would turn his brain power into a tribute.

(Admittedly, he first considered an attempt to set the Guinness Book of World Records mark for digits of Pi.)

But once he had the idea to memorize the names of each of the fallen, the traveling memorial took shape and became his passion.

White spent 10 months memorizing, in order, the rank and first and last names of everyone killed since the war began.

The list keeps growing, and the wall actually needs more panels.

With a white marker on dark panels, White writes about 2,300 names on the wall. It takes about 11 hours — and 7,000 words — to complete the traveling memorial.

“I do it just to say you’re not forgotten,” White said from where he was writing on the National Mall.

He says one of the greatest fears for family members of the fallen is that their son or daughter’s sacrifice will be forgotten.

Letter by letter, with precision and an uncanny memory, White assures that won’t happen.

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