Roll of Honor: A Modern Memorial to Those Who Gave Their All for This Country

PHOTO: Specialist 4 Leonard Lanzarin, United States Army, left, and First Lieutenant Joshua Booth, United States Marine Corps are seen in these undated file photos.PlayCourtesy of TogetherWeServed
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It is difficult to be unmoved when visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. It is heart-wrenching for most people to see the toll of that war so vividly laid out, with more than 58,000 names etched in stone.

One of those chiseled names is Leonard Lanzarin, or Larry to his friends.

Lanzarin was 19 when he joined the army in 1969 and was sent to Vietnam. He died there a year later from malaria. His fiancée, Melinda Valle, still grieves.

"He was a person, a young person with hopes and dreams," she said.

Valle has been to the Wall, but it was "devastating because there was no face to his name. He was so much more than something carved in granite."

Now Valle and others who have lost loved ones in military conflicts can put a face to the name, on a virtual wall. Called the Roll of Honor, it has been part of a larger website, TogetherWeServed, accessible only to members of the military.

Founder Brian Foster says it's time to go public.

"These profiles have been private for so long," Foster said. "We felt it fitting that these profiles be in the public view, to ensure that families across America [can] apply to make the profile as complete and accurate for posterity."

Foster, who was born in Scotland and did business with the U.S. military, spent millions of his own money to create TogetherWeServed, a social networking site for veterans in 2003, even before Facebook was launched.

"We were doing this while [Facebook founder Mark] Zuckerberg was doing his exams," Foster said, laughing.

Part of that website was set aside for the Roll of Honor, which already includes 100,000 fallen profiles, with information on all those who lost their lives in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and some who died in World War II and Korea.

"We know a great deal more fell in World War II and Korea." Foster said. "And even though we have a profile for everyone who fell in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, many are not as complete as they could be."

Time is running out. Of the 24 million veterans in the United States today, about half are from World War II, and "they are passing at a rate of 4,000 a day. It is our objective to try to capture the stories of these service people before it's too late," Foster said

Stephanie Wolf, Together We Served publicity director, said, "this Memorial Day, U.S. military members are encouraged to join Together We Served and families of the fallen are encouraged to visit the Roll of Honor and search for their loved ones."

Visit the site and you'll see the proud profile of 1st. Joshua Booth, U.S. Marine Corps. Booth's page was put together by returning veterans, and stumbled upon by his mother, Debra.

Booth was killed by a sniper's bullet five weeks after deploying to Iraq in 2006, and his mother relishes the Roll of Honor.

"Anything that I can do to make sure my son lives on and his sacrifice is remembered is important to me," Booth said.

She has added to her son's page, and one day was surprised to see someone else had as well.

"There were three pictures posted from Iraq that we had never seen before," she said. "I don't know who posted them, but I am so grateful."

Booth said the photos moved her husband to tears.

"It's Josh in Iraq addressing his men," she said. "Whoever did that [posted the pictures] gave us an amazing gift."

She hopes that the public release of the site will encourage others to weigh in. "The greatest day will be when I hear from someone who served with him," Booth said.

Joshua Booth left behind an 18-month-old daughter and his pregnant wife, who gave birth to disabled son months after Josh died. Debra Booth said the profiles, which include service history, medals ribbons, badges and stories, are an invaluable resource for her grandchildren.

Foster sees the website as a "national archive" that "belongs to the families and it is fitting that the families contribute to these profiles."

For Melinda Valle, Larry's Roll of Honor profile, "has been a healing process."

She too has downloaded pictures to his page.

"That is my way of helping him and repaying him and maintaining his legacy," she says.

Valle is grateful that others will now be able to take advantage of adding to, or setting up a page.

"I hope it can help other families or members who have been affected by the way," she said. "Perhaps if they see a name without a face, they can be the ones to provide that face."