Monday, May 25, 2015

Military Monday on Memorial Day - Exploring Arlington National Cemetery with the ANC Explorer App

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the US Armed Forces. In honor of Memorial Day, Family Tree Magazine's genealogy insider blog recently listed 11 free sites that can be used to research Americans who've died in military service.

One of the sites listed is Arlington National Cemetery's ANC Explorer. The website allows you to locate gravesites, view photos of headstones, and take a virtual tour of the cemetery. Both a mobile app and web browser application are provided. This app wasn't available last time I looked at the Arlington website, so I decided to give it a try on my home PC.

My great-uncle Julius Councill was killed in action on August 12, 1918 in a battle in Fismette, France during WWI. Searching for Julius Councill on the ANC Explorer page brought up a display of a map of Arlington with a marker showing the location of Julius' grave site. Selecting the marker brought up details on Julius' grave and a small photo of his headstone.

ANC Explorer details on Julius K. Councill
The Details button brought up larger photos of the front and back of the headstone and the option to download the photos shown below.

The Directions button brought up the path to Julius' grave on the map and a detailed set of directions starting from the Welcome Center. There was a choice between the quickest and easiest route. In this case, both routes were about 1 1/4 miles from the Welcome Center.

Zooming in on the map showed that the Argonne Cross is not too far from Julius' grave.

I went back to the main page, selected "Browse Points of Interest", "Monuments and Memorials", and selected the Argonne Cross. Details about the Argonne Cross were displayed as well as front and back photos.

Argonne Cross Details from ANC Explorer app

This explained why Julius was buried in Arlington three years after his death. His burial case file included several forms filled out by Julius' mother Arianna Councill requesting that his remains be moved from France to Arlington Cemetery. I had no idea so many servicemen were moved to Arlington during that time.

Photo of the Argonne Cross from ANC Explorer app
If you have family buried at Arlington or are planning a visit there, I'd definitely recommend giving the ANC Explorer app a try. One thing to note is that the site says the tool is still under development and not all graves are included yet.

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