Memory Expert’s Tribute with the Afghanistan Wall
Hey guys, I’m a memory expert. If you don’t know me, my name is Ron White, I teach people on youtube, how to memorize things for years, such as names, numbers, cards, speeches, books, whatever you want.
But as a memory expert, without question, the most significant and meaningful project in my entire life, has to do with my service in the U.S. Military and my time in the war in Afghanistan. So I just want to share this with you, some of you may know about it, some of you may not, but it’s a memory project that I can’t put in to words how much it means to me and the significance. I hope you check it out and understand the meaning of it.
I was a veteran of the Navy, I served from 2002 to 2010 as a reservist. In 2007, I was deployed to Afghanistan. When I returned from Afghanistan, one of my thoughts was that the general public has no idea the sculpt of the sacrifice that so many families and heroes made.
If I was a painter, I would’ve painted a portrait, if I was a singer, I would’ve written a song; it only made sense to use my memory, as a memory expert. I memorized everyone that died in Afghanistan. I memorized them in the order of their death. 2,300 plus people, their rank, first name and last name. It’s over 7,000 words. It was just my way to honor them, to say “You are significant, your life was important and we honor you, we’re not going to forget you.”
Every few hours, somebody will walk by that wall and remind me, this is not just 7,000 words, this is their son or daughter.
February 28, 2013 was the first time I had ever done this. I was writing on the wall and I heard the name Austin Staggs, and I kept writing and I heard someone in the crowd say “Austin Staggs” again and I kept writing and finally I turned around and I said:
“Ma’am that’s a name that’s on my wall, do you know Austin Staggs?” and she said, “Yes, I do. He was my grandson. I came out here to see you write his name.”
I said “It’s going to be about four more hours before I get to his name.” She said “Well, I’ll wait.” And we got her a chair and she moved that chair down, behind me for four hours.
Finally I got to about three minutes before writing his name and turned to her and said “I’m sorry it took me so long.” She said “I’m glad it did, his mom is here now, she drove out here, it gave her time to get here.”
So I stood there at the wall and I wrote his name with his mom and his grandmother standing behind me. It was emotional for me, it was emotional for them. I gave them a hug and the mother said “Thanks for not letting people forget about my son.”
I do it, to keep their memory alive, that’s the primary reason. I have become a better person, by learning these stories, of these selfless acts. I’ve heard so many different stories.
A girl who came, I don’t know the name specifically, I was writing and I was so distracted and she said “Is this name on the wall?” and I said “Yes, it is.” and I took her to the wall and I pointed to the name and she started crying.
She said “You know he was a big guy, he was a big strong guy. My brother was a little guy and they had to go on this mission and whenever they would go out, he would carry his backpack but he would also carry my brother’s backpack, because my brother was a little guy. Not only that, he would go and walk in front of my brother.” And she said, “because he did that, my brother is alive today and he lost his life.”
I was so caught up on the wall, I didn’t really focus on the name and she left, and I thought about it and I wish I knew his name. Then it hit me, later on that night, it doesn’t matter that I don’t know his name, because that is the story, of all of them. All of them carried our backpacks, all of them went before us and all of them made that sacrifice so that we could live.
To learn more about the Afghanistan Wall, click the link below: