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As gathering restrictions are loosened and people resume in-person activities, many long for a return to life as it was before March 2020. Not everyone loves working from home and attending important meetings on Zoom. Virtual Dungeons and Dragons sessions, for example, can pale in comparison to in-person sessions (I know the Wood Elf Paladin in my party was fudging their dice rolls!). As families were forced to use technology for work and leisure more than ever before, technology’s vital role in facilitating collaboration and communication became clearer.

This was not as clear last year when gathering restrictions were first imposed. Families found it difficult to share their stories and connect following a loss. However, grief does not change things—it reveals. The need for families to collectively grieve and remember has always been present. Families simply realized the full extent of how technology can help.


Veterans Legacy Memorial – Using Technology To Defy the Third Death

Our sister site, Keeper Memorials, enables users to create online memorials—collaborative spaces where friends and family can leave tribute messages, upload photos, like, share, comment, connect, and remember those who are dearly missed. Even as in-person funerals and memorials resume, families continue to find value in using online spaces to collectively remember, share stories, and grieve.

Screenshot of LILLIAN KINKELA KEIL's VLM Memorial Page

LILLIAN KINKELA KEIL’s VLM Memorial Page. Click to learn more.

Families and friends of US Veterans now have a way to collaboratively pay tribute and honor those who have sacrificed their lives for their country. On Memorial Day 2019, phase one of the Veterans Legacy Memorials (VLM) was launched in collaboration with Keeper’s online memorial solution. At the time, VLM provided military service and memorial information on a digital memorial page for each of the 3.7 million veterans laid to rest in National Cemeteries. Each veteran’s page includes their name, date of birth and death, service history, and monument location within a National Cemetery.

On Memorial Day of 2020, VLM expanded its features and capabilities to enable VLM site visitors, including family, friends, fellow service members, and members of the public, to leave messages of condolence and share their stories and memories.

Memorial Day 2021 marks the release of even more new features. VLM now enables online visitors to submit photos and biographical summaries of a veteran’s life, service achievements and military timeline, as well as historical documents such as award citations, letters, and newspaper clippings. One can also “follow” a veteran’s page and receive email alerts when new content is published.

We at TalkDeath are proud of Keeper Memorials’ contribution to the VLM project in cooperation with the US Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration. Keeper is humbled that so many families have turned to it since March 2020 and used its tools to preserve and share the life stories of their loved ones with easy-to-use, collaborative technology. Helping veteran families to celebrate and cherish the legacy of their loved ones using VLM is truly an honor.

The VLM website contains nearly 4 million commemorative profiles for veterans resting in National Cemeteries. This information about veterans and their service history also presents an opportunity for researchers, historians, students, and professionals to share historical and educational information about veterans and the cemeteries themselves, some of which date back to the Civil War and Revolutionary War.

The neuroscientist David Eagleman said:

 There are three deaths: the first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time. 

By using technology to enable families and website visitors to honor the service and sacrifice of veterans collaboratively, the Veterans Legacy Memorial defies the third death. It ensures that no veteran will ever truly die.

If your loved one is interred at a National Cemetery, you can find and contribute to their memorial page here: va.gov/remember

Screenshot of VLM website

Search for your Veteran on VLM


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