Posted: March 14, 2022
Washington – This week, Rep. Mike Thompson led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth and Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough calling for providing families of veterans with the option of utilizing Quick Response Codes (QR Codes) on grave markers or headstones to better tell the stories of our fallen servicemembers.
“We owe a debt that can never truly be repaid to every American who makes the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation,” said Thompson. “By utilizing QR codes on grave markers for our fallen heroes, we can provide an opportunity to learn more about their stories and accomplishments beyond the headstones. As an Army combat veteran, I am proud to lead this effort to ensure that families can have their loved ones’ full stories told for generations to come.”
“General Chuck Yeager's life is too vast to be captured on a headstone. Allowing gravesite visitors to scan QR Codes that details Gen. Yeager’s and other heroes’ amazing life stories provides a window to limitless history to engage and inspire people of all generations. QR Codes will highlight and bring these stories of heroic American veterans to life,” said Victoria Yeager, widow of Brigadier General Charles Yeager, who was the first pilot confirmed to have exceeded the speed of sound.
Signing the letter with Congressman Thompson include Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Jay Obernolte (CA-08), Tom Suozzi (NY-03), Nikema Williams (GA-05), Dr. Kim Schrier (WA-08), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Dean Phillips (MN-03), Jim Costa (CA-16), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Sharice Davids (KS-03), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (GU-AL), and Marilyn Strickland (WA-10).
The letter is supported by the Vietnam Veterans of America, American Veterans (AMVETS), Modern Military Association of America, and Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS).
The full text of the letter can be found here and below.
Dear Secretary Wormuth and Secretary McDonough,
Thank you for your continued efforts to honor veterans and ensure that their stories of service, sacrifice and patriotism are passed down as an inspiration to future generations. In that spirit, we urge you to provide families the option of utilizing Quick Response Codes (QR Codes) on or next to headstones or grave markers at Army National Military Cemeteries and all National, State, Territory, or Tribal Veterans Cemeteries as well as any headstones or markers provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration. These QR Codes provide a digital method for our fallen heroes’ and veterans’ stories to be told.
Each year hundreds of thousands of people travel across the nation to visit grave sites of our fallen heroes. These visits consist of families visiting their loved ones, students on field trips eager to learn about our military, and military members visiting their comrades. Many of the grave sites provide very little information about the fallen heroes outside of general background information like name, rank, and military service. QR codes would allow significantly more information to be accessed about the hero’s service and will strengthen the mission of veteran’ cemeteries to serve as a final resting place that honors our veterans while providing a greater connection for those that visit the website.
Affording veterans and their families the option to display a QR code on or next to military and veteran grave sites, provides the public with critical information regarding a member’s service and personal life. Many cemeteries only provide a few lines for the next of kin to share this information. Retaining one of those lines or a space next to the grave site for a QR Code that points the reader to a website of information about the member allows family members to share more of their loved ones’ stories. QR codes are already used at some military museums and Army career centers.
For service members buried at Army National Military Cemeteries, we urge you to create a safe, secure and broadly accessible option for veterans, their families and visitors to learn more about the hero at rest. For veterans buried at cemeteries under the purview of National Cemetery Administration, or any headstones or markers provided by the NCA, we recommend these QR codes link to the Veteran’s page on the NCA Veteran Memorial Legacy website or another database of your choosing.
Thank you for your consideration of our request. We look forward to working with you to ensure our fallen heroes’ stories can be properly told.