US soldier given headstone 130 years after death

A US Civil War Union Army veteran who passed away in 1881 has finally been honoured with a headstone after a decades-long battle by his great-great-grandson to get him recognised finally ended in victory.

Private Henry Middleton Applegate served faithfully for two years in Company ‘I’ of the 38th New Jersey Infantry, yet had never been awarded the lasting tribute that his descendant, Tom Applegate, felt that he deserved. Now, after many years of working towards his ancestor being given a gravestone similar to that of his peers, his efforts have finally been rewarded; an official dedication ceremony has now taken place at the Methodist Church Cemetery where he has rested for 132 years, after the younger Applegate received a certificate of approval from President Barack Obama.

The story, which can be explored in full in this article, is a true testament to the importance many families feel of honouring their loved ones, even if the person in question has passed away long ago. What’s more, the official burial could prove to be of benefit and significance to the wider community in Burlington County, New Jersey, as it is the first to be held in the grounds of the Methodist church since 1993.

The site was abandoned many years ago, and is now boarded up, but the recent activity there, prompted by Applegate, seems to have reignited interest in it. Whilst the churchyard’s marble headstones are currently untended, it now appears that the church could soon be given new life as a museum or community centre.

Google announce online data ‘wills’ for users

The search engine giants Google have unveiled a new service that will allow the relatives and partners of account holders to inherit their online legacy, with users now being invited to set up their own digital ‘wills’.

Announcing the project, known as Inactive Account Manager, Google product manager Andreas Tuerk conceded that ‘not many of us like thinking about death’, and that this is especially the case when considering our own or that of those closest to us. However, in an increasingly digital world, it is important that people begin to make provisions for what happens to their online profiles once they have gone.

Although perhaps not as tangible a memorial as gravestones, a person’s YouTube, Google+, Gmail and Picasa Web Albums history can tell us a great deal about the deceased, and the parent company of these services feels that browsers should now have the opportunity to either have their online presence completely removed or managed by the family members and friends of their choice.

The Inactive Account Manager works by sending a text message and email to a user once their account has been inactive for either three, six or 12 months and, if this is not responded to, the programme will assume the person in question has passed away. After this, the account will either be deleted or handed over to a ‘trusted contact’, depending on the wishes of the deceased.

Certainly one of the more unusual forms of memorial care available, this new service from Google is nevertheless a well-considered and important one in today’s high tech world.