By Ashley Yarchin
Lebanon, Ill. (KSDK) - What would it take to compile a list of all the members of the U.S. military who have lost their lives for our freedom? Well, a group of marines have made it their mission, not only to put them on paper, but to have them all read aloud on the same day.
Led by a marine in Lebanon, Illinois, that group wants it to happen in 52 days. That will be the first Veterans Day since the end of the Iraq war, and so now, they say they need your help.
It was November 9, 2004, when Lance Cpl. James Sperry was forced to retire from the Marine Corp. He was part of Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah when shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade blasted into his brain and chest.
Today, he still deals with his injuries, both physically and emotionally.
"There's not a whole lot of people that want to approach somebody inside that's wearing sunglasses but it's just something I deal with and I push through it," he said of the sunglasses he wears almost all the time.
Sperry is now incredibly sensitive to light as well as the plight of other soldiers who return home after war.
"I've seen the need for a support system for someone to kind of lead the way on helping these other veterans get back on their feet and transition and tell them that their mission didn't end when they got out of the Marine Corp. or the Army or the Navy or whatever," he went on to say.
So, what's his target? To find all the names of fallen U.S. heroes, as far as the records go back, then have them split into smaller lists, distribute them to different locations, and read them aloud on the same day, Veterans Day, this November 11th.
"It'd be a great accomplishment, unbelievably honored if we did complete that task," Sperry said.
Now, if this grassroots effort reminds you of another in St. Louis, the "Welcome Home Heroes Parade" back in January, you're definitely onto something.
The man behind what happened there came up with the idea less than a week before 83 floats and thousands of people took to the streets of downtown St. Louis.
At the start of this week, he talked to Sperry.
"He was actually the one that implanted the idea, brought the idea up to us," Sperry explained.
Now, all they need is the 200 locations nationwide. At eight names a minute with an estimated one million of them to read, Sperry says it will be a 10 hour commitment, a small sacrifice for all of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Sperry added that in order to host a reading location, you'll need an American flag, a podium, a bell, and the man power to read through the names.
To help out visit The Fight Continues website.