Fallen Heroes Memorial: In The News

Media reports about the website.

The Columbus Dispatch

Fallen soldiers mourned online

June 4, 2007

Winston-Salem Journal

Web sites provide memorials to those killed in war

May 28, 2007

Orlando Sentinel

Loved ones of fallen troops find comfort online

May 27, 2007

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Web sites created to honor those who have perished

May 28, 2006

San Francisco Chronicle

Living memorials
Annual festival with Mexican roots honors lives of the deceased

Friday, October 29, 2004

U.S. News & World Report

Gifts of consolation for the bereaved

5/31/04 Issue

Los Angeles Times (California)

Sympathy Crafted by Hand

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

CNN Headline News

CNN Headline News interview (MPG, 49 MB)

I was invited to do a live interview for the cable TV news channel CNN Headline News one year after the start of the Iraq war. I was nervous!

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Marietta Daily Journal (Georgia)

Internet tribute includes names, pictures, message boards

Monday, January 19, 2004


Mail carrier's Web site honors soldiers killed in Iraq, Afghanistan

Thursday, January 15, 2004


Fallen soldiers remembered online

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Washington Post

Mail Carrier's Web Site Honors Soldiers

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)

Mail Carrier's Web Site Honors Soldiers

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Web site honors U.S. dead in Iraq, Afghanistan

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Chicago Tribune



Fallen soldiers win final salute online

Web site gives family, friends and even strangers a chance to say thanks

By Li Fellers
Tribune staff reporter

December 27, 2003

When Marine Sgt. John Blanco said good night to Marine Sgt. Brian McGinnis one evening, he didn't know it would be for the last time.

McGinnis deployed to Iraq unexpectedly the next morning, and two months later, on March 30, he died in a helicopter crash in southern Iraq.

"I never really got to say goodbye to him and that's been something that I wish I had the opportunity to do," said Blanco, 29, of Maine.

An Internet memorial dedicated to fallen soldiers has given the former Marine Corps helicopter mechanic that chance.

The Fallen Heroes Memorial site--which was created by a mail carrier --has became an unofficial gathering place to honor, mourn and remember those who have lost their lives in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. As of Friday evening, 568 were memorialized.

On the site, every soldier who has died in Afghanistan or Iraq has his or her own page where visitors can post messages. From across the country and around the world, family, friends, fellow soldiers, long-lost acquaintances and complete strangers have found solace there.

Blanco stumbled across fallenheroesmemorial.com one night while surfing the Web. With his wife by his side, he typed out: "Brian was a great friend to me and he was like another brother. You are missed more than you know my friend. Rest in peace."

It was "just to let those people know he's a real guy and there are people who are seriously affected by him not being around anymore," Blanco said. "I know the guy and I miss him."

Although there are many sites dedicated to the soldiers, most simply offer a list of names. Few allow visitors to post messages, as this one does. Many surviving friends and relatives say that because it acts as a bulletin board, this site, more than the others, has proved valuable to families who have lost loved ones.

Survivors coping with grief say they read and reread the postings. They leave messages to mark holidays, birthdays or anniversaries and to say goodbyes that were never said.

For Melissa Givens, 27, of Fountain, Colo., the Web site will be her sons' introduction to their father, Army Pfc. Jesse Givens, 32.

Pfc. Givens was killed on May 1. His youngest son, Carson, was born 28 days later. Givens found the Web site while searching for newspaper articles about her husband. She was making scrapbooks about him for her two sons, Dakota, 6, and Carson, now 6 months old.

For widow, site is a refuge

"I want the boys to have all the messages from all these people," Givens said. "I can say, 'Your daddy's a hero,' but I'm just a mom. ... I want to be able to show them that other people feel that way too."

Angered by the events of Sept. 11, Given's husband, an ironworker and former security guard in Joplin, Mo., enlisted in the Army. He hated the idea of all the children growing up without their parents, his wife said.

Three weeks after being deployed, he drowned in his tank after it fell into the Euphrates River.

Givens said she was moved by the postings. "It made me cry," she said.

The site is now a refuge. "I go there whenever I'm depressed," Givens said. "I go on there and read the things that people wrote ... to see the respect that other people have for my husband. It makes me feel better."

Since discovering the site, Givens has posted photographs and several messages. She even posted the letter--in his handwriting--he had written to her and the boys and which was to be opened only in the event of his death.

She's also left messages on other soldier's pages, reaching out to other wives at Ft. Carson in Colorado. She has forwarded the link to loved ones, asking them, "Write on there for the boys." Twice a day, Givens checks for new postings, rereading her favorite messages.

"I want people to know that he's more than just one dead soldier. I want everyone to know how wonderful he was," Givens said.

As families and friends discover the site, they pass the link along to others. Many revisit the site daily, eager to see new postings.

The site, which debuted March 28, is operated by a mail carrier named Tim Rivera. On April 1, there were 20 visitors. It now averages around 1,000 visitors a day, said Rivera, 23.

"I want it to be a source of comfort for the families," said Rivera, who created the site in his spare time at his home in Powder Springs, Ga. Operating funds come out of his pocket.

Rivera, whose father and brother are in the Air Force, said the idea for the site came after his older brother was deployed to Iraq in February. Concerned about the possibility of losing his brother, Rivera thought about making a Web site for him and soon thought if he could do it for his brother, he could do it for all the soldiers. His brother returned but was deployed again this month.

"Nobody knows who these people are that are dying over there," Rivera said. "These soldiers are going overseas to fight for freedom. They're paying the ultimate sacrifice and nobody even knows about that.

"They don't get the recognition and the respect they deserve for doing what they did. You might hear that somebody died and that's it and they're forgotten about. The Web site is to remember them and to pay respects for their sacrifice."

Memory 'not lost'

Navy Hospital Corpsman Michael Vann Johnson Jr., 25, was killed just a few weeks shy of his fifth wedding anniversary. His vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade on March 25.

"His memory is one of the only things that I have now. ... Thank you to all who are willing to help keep that alive," writes Cherice Johnson, 25, on the page dedicated to her husband.

"To think about my husband being forgotten is upsetting," Johnson said. "It was nice to see my husband's memory was not lost."

Roxanne Acosta, 27, turns to the site when she feels like talking. "Hi, honey, it's me again. Today marks 4 weeks since you have been gone. I am feeling a little lonely tonight so I have decided to write a little. I miss you so much," she wrote recently to her husband, Army Spec. Genaro Acosta, 26.

Acosta was killed when his vehicle exploded after hitting two improvised explosive devices. The couple, who married quietly in a civil ceremony 18 months ago, planned an official Catholic wedding upon his return. The wedding dress and tickets to a Mexican resort for their honeymoon had already been bought.

"The Web site helps me understand the impact he had on other people," his wife said. "It helped me to accept the fact that it happened and that it didn't happen in vain."

Blanco said the site has helped him and he hopes it will help those who knew McGinnis.

"I don't think any of those troops are afraid to die," Blanco said. "They are afraid of being forgotten."

Copyright © 2003, Chicago Tribune