The re-launch of the Veterans Legacy Memorial before Memorial Day weekend saw more than 4,000 tributes, images, biographies, milestones, and documents posted to Veterans’ pages, joining the nearly 15,000 tributes that were posted since Memorial Day 2020. This National Cemetery Administration (NCA) web site is now the interactive digital cemetery experience envisioned when the project began several years ago.

But what we’ve realized by seeing some of the content submitted by family members, battle buddies, friends, scouts and the public is that, beyond the collection of nearly 4 million Veteran pages, each page and every user’s experience is personal. In many cases, deeply personal. The sharing of stories – grief, memories, war tales, accomplishments, regrets, triumphs, lineage, patriotism and more – connects us to those American heroes we love and miss.

Theresa Ericksen served as an Army nurse during the Spanish-American War in 1898; in Manila during U.S-Philippine War in 1899; and in France during WWI.

The image feature we added for Memorial Day is now the most popular feature for VLM users because these photos tell a story by themselves, capturing our eyes and hearts, and reaching into our emotions to remind us who these Veterans were. It’s exactly the reason we created VLM – to preserve Veteran legacies.

VLM is where one can post memories of Veterans, such as Theresa Ericksen, who served as an Army nurse at Sternberg Army Hospital in Chickamauga, Georgia, during the Spanish-American War in 1898; in Manila during U.S-Philippine War in 1899; and in France during WWI. Learn of her efforts to establish Ft. Snelling (Minn.) as a national cemetery by visiting the Veterans Legacy Memorial and posting a tribute message.

Nearby, in the same cemetery, others shared their own memories on Memorial Day. One of them is “Pam,” who honored both her father (WWII) and brother (Vietnam) with tributes.

Many miles west – but only a few computer clicks away – at Riverside National Cemetery in California is Marine Gunnery Sergeant Bob Monroe (Vietnam), whose VLM page has been filled with tributes, images, a biography, a timeline of his service, historical documents and word cloud that clearly gets to the heart of who Bob was (and is) to people close to him.

To those who have found a Veteran on VLM and are helping tell their story, thank you. For those who haven’t yet, join us in your own personal journey to keep their legacies alive.

Daniel Devine is the Executive Director of NCA’s Office of Engagement and Memorial Innovation

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Published on Jun. 21, 2021

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One Comment

  1. JAMES K ERVIN June 23, 2021 at 9:10 am

    I believe this is a fantastic start and look forward to future updates of this program.
    Things I would like to see included:
    a. auto generated links in biographies connecting units/divisions/commands when available
    b. a means to validate/add veterans not resting in national cemeteries (i.e. overseas, at sea, private/public)
    c. special notation (icon) for Purple Heart and MoH awardees
    d. section for awards that builds a ribbon/medal picture

    VLM is a huge project with limited scope. My vision involves complex coding and integration with multiple resources each with its unique hurdles.

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