On Thursday and in preparation for Memorial Day, members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment placed flags at headstones of U.S. military personnel buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. More than 1,000 service members arrived before sunrise to begin placing flags for more than 260,000 headstones. Of the 300,000 service member names added to a memorial database this week, most are from Arlington National Cemetery.
Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
May 23 (UPI) -- This Memorial Day weekend, it will be easier than before to pay respects to many of those who have died while in the armed services, thanks to a new digital effort by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The department recently added more than 300,000 names to the Veterans Legacy Memorial, an online database that includes official and user-generated information about some of the millions of veterans who are buried at 27 VA-administered military cemeteries.
The website was created in 2019 and has received more than 55,000 applications for veteran pages since.
"Each of these 300,000 veterans will now have individual pages on VLM where family, friends and others can post tributes, upload images and share their veteran's achievements and biographical information, and historical documents," the VA said in a statement this week announcing the latest addition of names.
The project combines information from the military service and cemeteries, and it allows users to search for specific veterans by name. Additionally, the website features the locations of many veterans' graves, along with exact map coordinates. Some even have gravesite photos.
Users can even "follow" veterans and receive email alerts when new content is added to their pages.
The memorial site is the nation's first platform to digitize tributes to deceased U.S. service members.
"The Veterans Legacy Memorial gives all of us a way to remember veterans and thank them for their services and contributions to our nation, even when we can't visit their gravesite," said Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs Matt Quinn.
Most of the recently added names come from Arlington National Cemetery.
It is there where a traditional military wreath-laying will take place at the iconic Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Arlington National Cemetery resides on what once was an estate belonging to the family of Gen. Robert E. Lee, who abandoned the property when the Civil War began. During that conflict, the property was turned into a Union military encampment.
Arlington has been used as a military cemetery since 1864 and is the resting place of nearly 400,000 people, including U.S. presidents Howard Taft and John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
On an average weekday, Arlington hosts between 27 and 30 military funerals.
About 3 million people visit the cemetery each year.
Aside from Arlington, there will be commemoration events at more than 130 VA cemeteries this holiday weekend.