ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A team of researchers from the University of Central Florida visited the St. Augustine National Cemetery earlier this month as part of a project with the National Cemetery Administration.
Amelia Lyons, a history professor at UCF and one of the principal investigators, said that the trip to St. Augustine was the group’s second contract with the Veterans Legacy Program.
“The program’s goal is to extend the mission of memorializing veterans,” she said.
The program is pursuing this mission by telling the stories of veterans. One of the ways they are doing this is through cataloguing the veterans buried at the cemetery, she said.
Individual veterans buried were all researched, and the information was then compiled into individualized biographies.
Lyons said that investigators utilized primary documents as part of their research. Researchers used sources ranging from newspaper clips from the time to old census data to government records. They also used secondary literature that scholars have written about the subjects.
Now, Lyons said that the team is preparing all the new information for release this year. This includes editing and fact checking all their research before publishing the work online before the end of November.
The program was inaugurated in 2016 by the NCA, one of the three branches of the department of Veterans Affairs, Lyons said. UCF was selected as an inaugural university to participate in the program.
“[We want to] expand who thinks about veterans and veterans who are buried in parks that are parts of communities,” she said.
Lyons said that the trip to St. Augustine was also significant because almost all fourth grade students in the state of Florida visit St. Augustine as part of their curriculum. It’s an opportunity to educate more individuals on the veterans and their historical significance to the area.
She also said that the program connects with K-12 classrooms, primarily during the summer. UCF faculty and K-12 teachers use the research to develop new assignments and lessons that still adhere to state standards.
The program currently features seven principal investigators, all UCF faculty, and 20 employed student research assistants, Lyons said. However, there are more students who have assisted through UCF classes.
The 1.36-acre cemetery is currently closed to new internments, according to the NCA website.
To learn more about the program and to view some of the findings, visit UCF’s VLP website.