By Ashley Yarchin
Lebanon, Ill. (KSDK) - It's an undertaking that has the potential to be historic. Last month we introduced you to a Marine on a mission to read the names of all fallen veterans as far as the records go back in the U.S. Eleven days from Veterans Day, this is an update on his plight.
The original goal was to have 600 reading locations across the country to split up all 1.2 million names.
It's an idea that was born with the help of James Sperry, a former Marine. Back in November 2004, he was struck by a rocket propelled grenade during the Battle of Fallujah. He returned home to Lebanon, Illinois with both physical and emotional scars, and at one point, the desire to take his own life.
"I had an attempt myself, so we know exactly what they're going through," he said of other members of the military returning home.
It's the reason he created what's called "The Fight Continues," an organization that provides peer to peer counseling for vets. In an attempt to spread word about his work, Sperry set out to have all of the names of fallen veterans read aloud this Veterans Day, November 11, at different sites across the country.
At NewsChannel 5's first meeting with Sperry in September, he'd amassed 15 locations. A little more than a month later, he now has close to 150.
"I'm blown away by the response nationwide," he explained.
Forty states, including Alaska, have a location on the list. One of them is the front lawn of the Rock Community Fire Protection District in Arnold.
"To give up a Sunday afternoon of our time to read people's names that gave up a lot more than we have given up, it's pretty rewarding, I think," said Mike Roth, who is the team leader of the district's Community Emergency Response Team.
He heard about Sperry's story through NewsChannel 5 first report on this event. And when he learned all he'd need was the manpower, a bell and an American flag, he set out to help a Marine on a mission.
So far, Roth has 35 volunteers who will read roughly 2,400 names starting at noon November 11th.
If you'd like to host a location or volunteer to read names, go to The Fight Continues' website.