The names and faces of more than 6,000 Americans killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were on display this weekend in a banner that will accompany an activist as he treks across country to draw attention to their sacrifice.
In the hour the banner was on display at at VFW Post 5477 in Imperial Beach about 20 members of the post and passersby gave it a look. Some who knew names and faces or served in the wars studied the 200-square-foot canvas.
"You don't really hear about the deaths anymore unless they're from your hometown and the flags are at half-staff. But that's a lot of love and souls," said Joe "Tiger" Patrick.
Patrick stitched together the banner with the help of some friends in his native Rhode Island. On Saturday he started his walk across America from Coronado to Washington, D.C., accompanied by the banner, a memorial that, if need be, will be updated along the way.
Patrick also presented the VFW post photos of 30 who died in a 2011 helicopter crash, the deadliest attack against NATO forces in the war in Afghanistan. Some of the dead were West Coast-based Navy SEALs.
In the future, Patrick said he would like to broaden his efforts and increase awareness around the number of veterans who have died by their own hand.
A study by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs found that 22 veterans committed suicide each day in 2010, more than previous estimates of 18 a day.
Interested in following Patrick's progress as he walks across America? Check his Faces Of Our Fallen Facebook page for updates.