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Homage Paid to Deceased Veterans with Augmented Reality

St. Augustine National Cemetery visitors can now observe interactive information regarding the lives of service professionals buried there. It has been made possible through an initiative of the University of Central Florida, Orlando.

The Veterans Legacy Program, established in 2016, is supported by funds from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It commemorates veterans’ lives and shares their accounts with the general population.

UCF students and faculty conducted research and penned the biographies of those soldiers who are commemorated or buried at the cemetery. Sources like census data, newspaper reports, and government accounts were the chief sources of information regarding the lives of the honoured veterans. Information including veterans’ job roles and locations, nature of their death, are featured, among other relevant details.

An AR mobile application was also launched for this initiative. It enables anyone with a smartphone to fixate their device on any headstone, to gain access to related information regarding the particular veteran. It effectively creates an interactive cemetery tour experience. The creation of this application and website was made possible through the technical contributions of undergraduate and graduate students.

Amelia Lyons, UCF associate professor and head of the Veterans Legacy Project, remarked that numerous students put in several months of efforts to develop the application. She elaborated that UCF is widely regarded as a leading institution for digital mapping and disclosing information to the public.

Lyons stressed that the institution was making information openly visible instead of keeping it inaccessible. The cemetery was selected as a research subject as it had been a historical burial site spanning over many American military eras, starting from the Seminole Wars to the relatively recent Vietnam War.

Other cemeteries where the history department of UCF is conducting research include the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Lucy-le-Bocage, and the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, both in France, along with the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell. Data collected from all these sources will contribute to researchers’ efforts.

Scot French, an associate history professor at the University of Central Florida in Orlando stated that digital mapping is a method of seeking patterns that cannot be obtained through pages. He acknowledged that new strides are being made in the field of research.

Lyons exhibited a heat map created from analysing data points that demonstrated how malaria and other infectious diseases were responsible for more soldier deaths during the 19th century than warfare. An interactive K to 12 curriculum is also in the works, which teachers across the USA can utilise.

A particular mystery exists at the St. Augustine National Cemetery, apart from the various stories revealed at the site. The cemetery’s southwest corner has two headstones carved from marble, next to each other, with “Six Unknown Indians” inscribed on them.

Amy Giroux, a UCF professor shed some light regarding the mystery, citing the St. Augustine Castillo de San Marcos event. She hopes that more mysteries can be uncovered through further investigation. More information regarding this cemetery can be found at www.vlp.cah.ucf.edu.

 

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