“We want to make it personal,” Ark said.
Ark is currently helping the city raise $400,000 to finish the park — right now there are only three memorials and one bench. Ark wants at least six more memorials installed, although he doesn’t have a timeline for their completion. A second bench will be dedicated in the spring to those who died in friendly fire in Vietnam.
But the Veterans Park memorials aren’t the only monuments stamped with QR codes.
At the annual rededication ceremony for the memorial of Staff Sgt. Wesley “Wes” Williams at Tecumseh High School on Dec. 10, attendees could use their smartphones to access a QR code stamped on Williams’ memorial when it was first installed. The link directs to Williams’ obituary, biography, family tree, and photos of him and his family. The memory of Williams, who was a THS 2005 graduate and died in Afghanistan in 2012, is kept alive by his wife Krista, who regularly updates the QR link with fresh photos and information.
“They rededicate it every year,” said Lars Williams, Wesley Williams’ father. “It’s beautiful what people have done. He’s never gone unless he’s forgotten.”
MSgt. Antonio Ruiz, who is the aerospace science instructor at Tecumseh High School for the Tecumseh Air Force Junior ROTC, pushed for Williams’ memorial to be installed in 2013, and said Williams is the only memorialized Air Force Junior ROTC member from the area.
Ruiz doesn’t have a smartphone to access the code on the memorial, he thinks the code enhances Williams’ memory.
“It keeps him alive for future generations,” he said.
Apart from civic memorials, QR codes aren’t as popular on monuments as Walters, a sales manager at Dodds, wants them to be. Each QR code costs $250, which includes the tag and access to the template to upload content. They have been available to attach to Dodds’ gravestones and memorials since 2010, but baby boomers are currently the primary market for gravestones, and they aren’t enthused about directing passersby to photos or additional information about their deceased loved ones. Dodds sold only 127 codes since 2010.
“It hasn’t grown as fast as I thought it might,” Walters said. “I see them a lot more on civic memorials, almost every one of those in Clark County has one on it, because it’s an educational and informational tool.”
Walters said he thinks QR codes on civic memorials will continue to become more popular than codes on gravestones, even as younger, more tech-savvy generations enter the gravestone market. Dodds is currently developing a new marketing program to advertise QR codes for monuments in the Springfield area, he said.
“The biggest benefit are civic memorials — I could see this on memorials in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “It would be a great self-guided tour.”