My Predictions with the Wall Were All Wrong

Memorizing Names at Fenway

On Veteran’s Day 2012 I released a Youtube video announcing the project –>

It was a big deal for me to do that. I am not one to boast publicly about something that I am GOING to do. In other words, you won’t find me talking about a goal I am going to hit or something I am working on just about ever. Instead, I tend to keep my mouth shut and just work on the goal. The only time you will hear me talking about it is when it is done and I say, ‘I just did this.’

This was true in a sense on this project, I had the idea in 2011 and began working on it May 1, 2012 (memorizing). Yet only a handful of people knew about it until the above video on Veteran’s Day 2012.

In the video, I said I would write the 1st wall out in January or February. Doing what you say you are going to do is a big deal for me. Even if a statement comes back to bite you later you got to follow through. Little did I know at the time how optimistic the January to February time line would be; much like the entire project. May 1st I had set a goal of writing the wall out on the 4th of July. In other words, I was predicting an 8 week window to memorize to memorize the 2,200 names.

At the USA Memory Championship, I will memorize 130 names in 15 minutes so I just did a little multiplication in my head and figured 17 times that with some review days in there…8 weeks is very doable. I could not have been more wrong. I completely factored wrong how much the review process would work. I wasn’t reviewing 2200 names but 7,000 words (rank, 1st name and last). Towards the end of the project it would take days just to review the entire list. I misunderstood how challenging the spelling would be:


By July 1st I wasn’t even close to being finished. By Veteran’s Day I had arrived at 1600 and once again my optimism boiled over and estimated I would be writing the wall in January or February at the latest.

My intensity picked up after I released the video and December and January all I did was memorize. Sometimes 8 hours a day. It was the middle of January and I had no venue, no date and NO WALL. The puzzle pieces began to fall….

I casually told a woman in Ft Worth about my plans and she said, ‘Oh, I know exactly who you need to talk to.’ She connected me and within a few days the downtown Ft Worth had a location for me selected. I opted for the date of Feb 28th. It was the last possible day I could write the names and still stick to my word/goal of a Jan/Feb wall.

I can’t believe how wrong I was with the time it would take to complete this project. On the other hand, I am glad I was wrong. If I had known up front it would take 10 months and $25,000 plus before I even wrote the first name….maybe I wouldn’t have started. I am so grateful I did.

The next challenge was the wall construction. That is for another blog….



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  • To Ron white I was supposed to go to the game today on memorial day but was unable to attend. I found out you wrote the names of all our fallen and first want to say thank you . It helps some people not to forget. Also I want to personally thank you for your service. I was wondering if you had spc. Jose A. Torre jr. on your list? He was killedled in actio n. He was on rout clearance in Iraq his vehicle was hit by a rpg and the only one killed on 01-15-11

    • Brian, thank you so much for taking the time to post a message. My wall is only the names in Afghanistan because that is where I served (2007). But I want you to know that I acknowledge all our heroes and certainly salute Jose. Thank you for your message

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