Arlington National Cemetery goes online

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Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) has launched its new online search tool and mobile application, ANC Explorer, which allows users to locate a specific grave site and view the headstone. It also provides locations and information on the cemetery’s many monuments, plaques, and final resting places of military and political leaders.

The cemetery’s director, Kathryn Condon, and its superintendent, Patrick Hallinan, announced the launch Oct. 22 in Washington, during the annual meeting and exposition of the Association of the United States Army. Army Maj. Nick Miller, chief information officer for Arlington, demonstrated the application.

The new application makes it easy for anyone to find the exact location of a loved one’s burial. For example, if someone were to type in the name "Frank Buckles," a marker would appear on the digital map of the cemetery, showing where the last remaining World War I veteran was interred, with front and back images of his headstone. The user is also shown that Buckles was born on Feb. 1, 1901, and passed away on Feb. 27, 2011.

Miller said ANC Explorer makes research on grave sites much easier because, "three years ago, people had to search through more than 400,000 paper records to get any information. You can now do that with a simple search that a computer can return to you instantaneously. This also makes it easier for us to answer questions that we get all the time - and used to be hard to answer."

The American public can now explore the cemetery’s 624 acres and 260,000 grave sites with pinpoint accuracy, using a digital map that provides an overhead view of the cemetery and is accurate to within three inches.

Besides grave sites, ANC Explorer also identifies monuments and memorials that are scattered throughout the cemetery. It even has a search function for "Notable Trees" - notable because of plaques that have been placed in front of them, such as the one honoring more than 1,000 men of the 63rd Infantry Division who died in Europe during World War II.

"By presenting this information to visitors, they can really explore the cemetery, whether they’re here in person or on the web," Miller said. "This is just the beginning, and we really look forward to feedback from the public. Over time, we’re going to continue to add features and capabilities that will improve this product."

ANC Explorer is available for download at www.arlingtoncemetery.mil, as well as through iTunes and Google Play. It is also being loaded onto new kiosks at the cemetery’s visitors center.

A feature story on many improvements that have recently been made at ANC will appear in the January 2013 issue of The American Legion Magazine.

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