Army's Old Guard photographing every one of 219,000 Arlington grave with iPhones
Night after night this summer, troops from the Army's historic Old Guard have left their immaculately pressed dress blues, white gloves and shiny black boots at home to slip into Arlington National Cemetery in T-shirts and flip-flops to photograph each and every grave with an iPhone.
The sometimes eerie task to photograph more than 219,000 grave markers and the front of more than 43,000 sets of cremated remains in the columbarium is part of the Army's effort to account for every grave and to update and fully digitize the cemetery's maps. The Old Guard performs its work at night to escape the summer heat and to avoid interrupting funerals.
Last year a scandal over mismanagement at the nation's most hallowed burial ground revealed unmarked and mismarked graves. Congress then mandated that the cemetery account for the graves of the more than 330,000 people interred in the cemetery. Markers may bear more than one name, such as a service member and spouse.
The photos taken at night are matched with other records to find discrepancies that need to be fixed, and officials say it's too early in the process to draw any conclusions. Military officials hope they can eventually use the photos to create an online database for the public. Four million people annually visit the cemetery.
Read more: Troops Photograph Every Arlington Grave - TIME