WASHINGTON — To mark Memorial Day, the Department of Veterans Affairs has expanded an online directory honoring military veterans, adding profiles for those interred at Arlington National Cemetery and 26 other cemeteries managed by the Defense Department.
The National Cemetery Administration, part of the VA, launched the Veterans Legacy Memorial website in 2019. With the addition of some 300,000 profiles announced Wednesday, the searchable database now includes memorial pages for more than 5 million veterans where loved ones can post remembrances, photos and other biographical information.
In a news conference at VA headquarters on Wednesday, James LaPaglia, the NCA’s digital services officer, said the agency added those interactive features to the website in 2020, largely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down in-person gatherings for Memorial Day.
Users can search for a veteran’s memorial page by name, service branch, year of death and resting place. They can then post messages, photos, historical documents and more. LaPaglia said users have made nearly 60,000 posts, which his office reviews to make sure they are appropriate, and that 98 percent of posts are approved.
“In more than 33 years, this is the most emotionally valuable work that I’ve ever done,” LaPaglia said.
The website includes hundreds of cemeteries, including the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake and the newly added Fort George Wright Cemetery in Spokane. In addition to burial grounds managed by the VA and Defense Department, it includes tribal, state and territorial cemeteries that receive VA funding, as well as two U.S. National Park Service cemeteries.
LaPaglia said the VA will continue to expand the website with the addition of private cemeteries, which could add another 5 million veterans’ pages.
“We are not finished,” he said. “This is still a fraction of those veterans who have other resting places. Our goal is to eventually have a page for every veteran, no matter where their resting place is.”
The Veterans Legacy Memorial website can be accessed at va.gov/remember.