Ron White spent nearly 12 hours Tuesday writing more than 2,200 names of troops killed in Afghanistan -- 7,000 words -- by hand and entirely from memory on a makeshift wall in Alamo Plaza.
“It's amazing,” marveled Chris Kriesel, a visitor from Arkansas.
Staff Sgt. Chris Wilson, who is stationed at Fort Bliss and currently training at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland, heard about the project on Facebook and came to see if for himself.
And he found something familiar.
“Private First Class Dewater, Specialist King, and Sgt. Pirtle,” he read from the wall. “They were good friends. I helped train them, bring them up. Its just one of those things.”
White, a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan, is a winner of the USA National Memory Championship and a professional speaker and memory trainer.
Now he’s using his talents to honor the fallen on a 50-city tour.
“I had a mom come up to me and she was crying and she watched me write down her son’s name,” White said. “She said, ‘I feel like the world has gone on and forgotten about my son's sacrifice.’”
This is White’s way of preventing that.
The project drew a crowd in Alamo Plaza where onlookers perhaps first marveled at White’s skill, but then the writing on the wall sank in.
“This is showing individual names,” said Kriesel, “that they are important to somebody somewhere.”
"I cant even fathom it, I don’t have words to describe it,” Wilson said. “Its just awesome."
White continues to add names to the dry erase wall every time a troop dies in Afghanistan.
And he’ll pack up his wall and marker and move to the next city to write those same names again and again for crowds across the country.
“I wanted to show that each one of these in an individual person,” White said. “Each and every one of you individually, you’re not forgotten."
You can learn more about White’s project at www.americasmemory.com.