Friday, November 6, 2009

Just in time for Veteran's Day - "Smart" Phone access to Veteran burial sites

Just in time for Veteran's Day, more convenient access to veteran grave sites. As announced in a recent AP article, "Want to find a veteran's grave? Get out your "smart" phone," the Department of Veterans Affairs has enhanced its Web site to make it easier to look up the grave sites of more than 6.7 million veterans on a "smart" mobile phone, such as a BlackBerry. It builds on an online service started in 2004 that helps locate the graves of veterans and eligible family members buried in national cemeteries or whose graves are marked with a government headstone. Once the site locates the cemetery, it offers users directions on how to get there.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: Words of War, Part 3

In the continuing series on everyday words and phrases originating during war time, the American Civil War takes center stage, as Jean Hibben presents, "Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: Words of War, Part 3. And who can reference the American Civil War without acknowledging Abraham Lincoln? Although Lincoln may have borrowed rather than coined the phrase, the concept (and potentially damaging consequences) of "swapping horses midstream" is accredited to him. This along with several other familiar words and phrases can be traced back to that same time period. 

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Wreaths Across America journey begins Sunday

The annual Wreaths Across America escort is scheduled to depart Harrington, Maine this Sunday and travel through southern Maine on its way to Arlington National Cemetery, according to an article in Kennebunkport Post.

For 16 years, Morrill Worcester, president of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, has decorated graves at Arlington with wreaths made by volunteers. The project was known locally as the Arlington Wreath Project until 2006, when the project was taken to the national level and called Wreaths Across America. The wreaths will be escorted to Virginia by riders from the Patriot Guard.

From the Wreaths Across America web site:

We invite you to join us in 2008 at any of the wreath-laying ceremonies to be held concurrently on Saturday, December 13th, 2008 at 12:00 noon EST. Click here for a complete list of participating locations.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And off they went . . .

A recent article in the Canadian Press tells of a family of ten brothers from Prince Edward Island, all of whom served in World War II. The story reminded me of the Sullivans, five brothers all serving together aboard the same ship during World War II who lost their lives when their ship went down in the South Pacific. Although the brothers from Prince Edward Island returned home, the war left its mark. Their story is kept alive by a daughter who says of her children and grandchildren, "We talk, they see the pictures." The article, "And off they went . . .," is a retrospective of these two stories.

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Researching the veterans in your family tree

This week, in an article on, Kimberly Powell asks the question, "How Much Do You Really Know About the Veterans in Your Family Tree?" The author challenges readers to spend this week researching the many narratives, photos, histories and perspectives that can help fill out that veteran's personal story, and cites a good many resources for doing so. She writes, "Learn the history of any battles in which they fought. Learn what life was like at home for the family members they left behind. But most importantly of all, explore veteran oral histories - a treasure trove of feelings and personal recollections left behind by other men and women who experienced the same wars, battles, struggles and triumphs as your veteran ancestor."

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Women Veterans

Contrary to what we might think, women in military service is not a recent phenomena. As far back as the American Revolution and the American Civil War, women have served, if covertly, even in combat. In her article, "Women Veterans," Gena-Philibert Ortega provides an historical overview, along with a number of resources for researching your own female ancestors and learning more about the women who served.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

British WW I naval service records now online

As reported on the UK, "National Archives puts naval WW I service records online," the service records of 40,000 members of the World War One Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) are now accessible online via the The National Archives. The records, previously available only to those visiting The National Archives in Kew, family historians can now trace their WWI naval ancestors through this new online resource.

The records can be found at DocumentsOnline. For more information on tracing your British World War One ancestors, visit the National Archive's Military History pages.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

U. S. Veteran Burial Places

Summer is an excellent for visiting cemeteries and doing so is rewarding in so many ways, and while it's not the same as being there, thanks to the Internet, researchers can conduct cemetery research during any season right from home. In her article, "United States Veteran Burial Places," Gena Philibert-Ortega offers some tips for conducting cemetery research for U. S. soldiers and veterans, and it's not just in veteran cemeteries. The article covers burials from earlier wars in U. S. history, as well those of a more recent times.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

In Flanders Field the Poppies Blow . . .

Memorial Day is the day to honor the fallen, and has come to be a day when we remember all who have gone before. In her article, "The History of Memorial Day," Gena Philbert Ortega provides background for this important holiday and the wearing red poppies on this day, which has truly great meaning.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Wreaths Across America bound for Arlington, Sunday, Dec 9

Time once again for Wreaths Across America, a stunning tribute to our men in arms. The Wreaths Across America convoy to Arlington National Cemetery will travel Route 1 through the Midcoast on Sunday, Dec. 9. This year's convoy from Maine to Virginia is slated to be the biggest, with between 50 and 300 vehicles joining along various sections of the route, according to an article yesterday in VillageSoup.

Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington has for 15 years been donating wreaths and decorating the graves of 4,500 veterans buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Each year the parade of wreaths is escorted 750 miles, through 196 communities, by the Patriot Guard Riders and Civil Air Patrol on their trek to Arlington National Cemetery, where the wreaths make their eventual home adorning the graves of veterans.

The Wreaths Across America story began more than 15 years ago when the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington began a tradition of donating and placing wreaths on the headstones. It's worth taking a look at the article and/or the Wreaths Across America web site to see the beautiful photos of the wreaths after they've been placed

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ancestry posts two new WW II collections

Announced in a recent press release, with regard to the highly anticipated premiere this week of Ken Burns documentary "The War," encourages Americans to honor the legacies of their family members or loved ones who served in WWII by preserving their unique stories online. For the 81 percent of Americans who say they have had a family member or loved one serve in the military, provides a wide range of services to archive and explore their family's military history, such as recording oral histories with its new audio storytelling service.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, America loses approximately 1,000 WWII veterans every day. Their vanishing legacies have sparked a growing consciousness to capture their stories.

For those interested in delving deeper into their military roots, hosts the largest collection of U.S. military records available and searchable online, featuring more than 90 million names that span the 1600s through Vietnam. This week, added two new collections pertaining specifically to WWII, including: WWII Military Personnel (MIA/Lost at Sea) and WWII "Stars and Stripes" Newspaper.

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Thursday, August 9, 2007

British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920

As reported on Web User, "WWI pension records online," a collaboration between the National Archive and genealogy site has seen the pension records of one million men who fought in the great war posted online. Now all the pension records that exist - many were destroyed by fire after bombing raids in the Second World War - are online. managing director Simon Harper said: "The completed British Army World War One Pension Records provide vital information on this brave group of men and are an important resource for anyone interested in researching virtually any soldier who sustained illness or injuries whilst serving in the First World War."

According to Ancestry web site, each file typically contains date and place of enlistment, tours of duty, medical history and former occupations, and may also "contain next of kin information.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Renewal & Remembrance project slated for two historic cemeteries

According to an article in Landscape Management, plans are well under way for the upcoming “Renewal & Remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery and Historic Congressional Cemetery” on Monday, July 16, 2007, from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) welcomes the participation of companies and individuals involved in the Green Industry. Hundreds of landscape and lawn care specialists from across the nation will bring their crews to Arlington National and Historic Congressional cemeteries to spend the day mulching, caring for and cabling trees with lightening protection, pruning, liming, planting, and aerating. This gift is valued at more than $250,000 in services and work.

As noted in the article, both cemeteries have a fascinating history. While most people recognize Arlington National Cemetery, few realize how large it is and the number of well-known Americans interred there. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is one of the most visited sites at Arlington Cemetery. Historic Congressional Cemetery is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. The grounds occupy 32.5 acres in Southeast Washington, D.C., overlooking the Anacostia River. Since 1807, an estimated 60,000 interments have occurred. To learn more about the project, visit, or call the PLANET office at (800) 395-2522.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

FREE ACCESS to Ancestry military records through June 6

As reported this week on AHN, has posted more than 90 million U.S. war records online, from the first English settlement at Jamestown in 1607 until the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. In honor of Memorial Day and those who gave their lives, the entire U. S. Military Collection can be viewed for free through the anniversary of D-Day on June 6.

The records, taken from the National Archives and Records Administration, include 37 million images, draft registration cards from the world wars, military yearbooks, prisoner-of-war records from four wars, unit rosters from the Marine Corps from 1893 through 1958, and Civil War pension records. The site also lists the names the U.S. soldiers killed numbering 3.5 million including the 2,000 who perished in Iraq.

The U. S. Military Collection page also features one of Ancestry's latest acquisitions, the United Newsreel Motion Pictures (1942-1946), newsreel footage from World War II.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Day -- Locating cemetery information for veteran ancestors

While Memorial Day has come to be a day of remembering all loved ones who have passed away, its origin was a day to remember those who died in the service of their country. In her article, "Memorial Day," Gena Philibert-Ortega gives a brief background on the history of the day and provides a number of resources to help researchers find the cemetery and tombstone information veteran ancestors who died during wartime and at home.

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Remembering American veterans buried abroad

A very poignant article yesterday in Stars and Stripes, "Row upon row, Americans lie at Dutch cemetery," reminds us of the many fallen Americans whose graves remain abroad. According to the article, the American Battle Monuments Commission maintains 21 cemeteries in Europe and North Africa where U.S. military members killed during the two world wars are buried. At a time when modern society is taking over the land and traces of battle are harder to find, these are places where the reminders of the wars are easy to see and where it is possible to honor those who gave their lives for their countries.

The article pays tribute to those who died and those who lived but carried the wounds of battle with them to their graves, physically and emotionally. It also pays tribute to those whose missing in action. "About 78,000 Americans who went off to World War II are listed as missing. Eight thousand of them are buried in American cemeteries as unknown soldiers." Between 1945 and 1951, more than 230,000 U.S. service members killed during World War II were repatriated from cemeteries worldwide. However, many families believed it more appropriate for them to stay with comrades near the battlefields where they died. As a result, more than 93,000 men and women are buried in American cemeteries around the world.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Book Captures Solemnity, Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery

An article on, "New Book Captures Solemnity, Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery," reviews "Where Valor Rests: Arlington National Cemetery," a new book released on May 18. The 191-page book embodies the culmination of a two-year effort by Arlington National Cemetery Commemorative Project, Inc., in conjunction with National Geographic, and Rich Clarkson and Associates.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007 partners with FamilySearch

Great news for researchers. has announced an agreement with FamilySearch, bringing together their combined resources to digitize and make available many large historical collections, as noted in The first project will be the three million U.S. Revolutionary War Pension files which will be published for the first time online in their entirety. in partnership with the National Archives has digitized over eight million historical records, with more being added each month, estimating over 25 million digitized documents available by the end of the year. As part of the agreement, will be accessible for free in all FamilySearch operated centers worldwide. The article also states that is now offering free seven-day trial memberships.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Listen for the sound of EchoTaps Worldwide

Perhaps the most stirring of all funerals ceremonies are those performed by comrades-in-arms, paying tribute to one of their own, men and women who put their life on the line -- police, fire-fighters and, of course, the soldier. This spring an echoing bugles will be heard across the globe to enhance public awareness of Verertan services and programs. Announced in a recent press release, the Fort Snelling National Cemetery will host EchoTaps Worldwide on Saturday, May 19, 2007 - Armed Forces Day. Admission is free, open to the public, and handicapped accessible.

EchoTaps Worldwide is a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Bugles Across America to create awareness of VA programs and the availability of volunteer buglers to play Taps at the funerals of Veterans. Musicians will render Taps at 11:00 AM local time on May 19 beginning at American Battle Monuments Commission sites overseas and continuing at National Cemeteries, Arlington National Cemetery, National Park Service Cemeteries and State Veterans Cemeteries across America. More information at the Military Salute Reference Forum.

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