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A Memorial for the Fallen, in Need of a Home

On a warm spring day, inside a stone-cutting workshop in Manassas, Va., a man is sandblasting a headstone with the name of someone who has recently passed away. Outside, Kevin Roustazad, an Iranian-born immigrant who owns the shop, gives a tour of the 30-foot-long, black granite monument he's constructed to honor American forces killed in ongoing wars.

"The wall is going to have all the names, ranks, dates, places of birth… and the last place they served… in Iraq and Afghanistan," Roustazad says, "and above, his or her picture."

Roustazad will use a stencil and sandblaster to carve the name of every person killed in service since the invasion of Afghanistan. And he'll etch into the memorial's face a portrait of each soldier in porcelain.

While his monument prompts obvious comparisons to the Vietnam Memorial, it's on a much smaller scale. The names will be a quarter-inch tall, and the rounded photos will be just an inch-and-a-quarter. He's left enough space for 5,600 names.

After he carves the names and applies the pictures of nearly 3,000 men and women, he'll need to find the memorial a permanent home. The stone slab sits awkwardly between an auto wash and a car lot. He's hoping to find a quiet setting.

"I'd like to see it in a park-like place away from the everyday rush and the traffic," Roustazad says. "To be honest, I don't know where it will end up."

In the meantime, Roustazad is calling the family of each service member from a list provided by the military. He's eager to make sure that the picture he has is the one they want on the monument.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Paul Heltzel
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