I’ve long used GPS tools to tie down the latitude and longitude of the headstones of our family members around the world. The data is embedded in my genealogy records for them as well as in the images of the stones.
This documentation activity was taught to me the hard way when I “lost” the location of family members in a large cemetery in Massachusetts. The digital photos I’d taken of their markers and the cemetery scene were wiped during in a security scan at the airport.
Because I live on the opposite side of the country, visits to Massachusetts were infrequent and expensive,so the loss was especially grievous to me.
Determined to reobtain the images, I purposely scheduled my return flight from meetings in Boston for the late afternoon, thinking that I’d have time to make a “quick” run to the cemetery, take the photos and make it to the airport with enough time to check in and catch my flight.
That was a good plan but implementation proved to be impossible when after arriving at the cemetery, I realized that the memory of the location of the headstones had merged into the memories of dozens of visits to other cemeteries in that state.
No one was around to help with directions or a map and after ninety minutes of walking up and down rows of stones, I was forced to leave empty-handed.
I’d always thought that I’d make it back another time to take the photos but a change of jobs, circumstance and events has precluded the fulfillment of that plan. Fortunately, a Find-a-grave “friend” fulfilling her own pay-it-forward activities saw my request for someone to take the photos and the images are now in my possession.
I’ve always enjoyed walking through cemeteries reading the stories written in stone about the lives of those now in residence. Of course, there is little written on each stone except facts, sayings and occasionally interesting epitaphs.that conveyed the personality of the deceased. However, with enough walking and reading, patterns emerge. Numerous deaths in a relatively short span of time, indicate a virulent disease. Inscriptions listing the very short lives of many children in a family convey the heart break that their parents and family must have felt and so on.
Today, the stories of individuals are embedded in grave markers using the same QR codes that we see on products in stores, warehouses and libraries. A seemingly random splotch of lines in QR code emblems contain a surprising large amount of data. When they direct viewers to web addresses, there is little limit on the data, photos, stories, video and audio that tell the story of the deceased individual.
An article on the NPR site about the use of QR codes explains the concept and provides a link to at least one company that provides attachable QR emblems and webhosting for their stories..
This Memorial Day, consider both obtaining the latitude and longitude of the headstones of your deceased family as well as considering how you’d implement a QR code to tell their stories.