‘Graveyards don’t have to be morbid’: Massachusetts man creates QR CODE for his father’s grave so that people can scan it and learn all about his incredible life as an atomic veteran
- Michael Bourque, 55, from Melrose, lost his father, John Harold Bourgue, in 2017
- He used a 3D-printed a plastic QR code and glued it to his dad’s gravestone
- Michael told DailyMail.com that he wants to make cemeteries more immersive
A man has virtually memorialized his late father by creating a QR code for his gravestone, so people visiting the cemetery can learn more about his fascinating life.
Michael Bourque, 55, an inventor and engineer from Melrose, Massachusetts, was mourning his father, John Harold Bourque, who passed away in April 2017 at the age of 87, when he had a flash of inspiration about how to honor his legacy.
‘When someone dies, they put a marker on the ground before you buy the stone. I thought, “Jeez, no one’s gonna see this. There’s so much to know about my dad.” And in an instant, I came up with this idea,’ he told DailyMail.com.
Michael used a 3D printer to make the QR code medallion out of weatherproof plastic that glows in the dark before gluing it to his father’s gravestone.
Michael Bourque, 55, Melrose, Massachusetts, created a QR code and attached it to his father John Harold Bourque’s gravestone, so people can learn about his life
The inventor used a 3D printer to make the QR code medallion out of weatherproof plastic that glows in the dark
When passersby scan it with their cellphone, they are taken to a website featuring his dad’s biography, including photos and a timeline of his life.
John, the youngest of five children, was born in Melrose during the Great Depression and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1951 during the Korean War.
The atomic veteran, who was a carpenter by trade, constructed homes that were blown up during the nuclear testing that took place at Camp Desert Rock in Nevada.
‘He had to hide in a bunker on the ground while they blew off this atomic weapon,’ his son explained. ‘Then his job was to go back in and see the destruction that it had caused.’
Michael shared that John was also a ‘great dad’ who helped fuel his interest in innovation and engineering.
‘We grew up poor, and my dad was too cheap to pay for anybody to fix anything. So I was that a young kid who held the flashlight while we fixed everything,’ he said.
‘My dad taught me everything from plumbing to electricity to carpentry, and I credit a lot of my creativity and innovative skills and abilities to make things to my dad.’
‘This has been scanned all over the world – even Korea, where my father fought in the Korean War,’ Michael told DailyMail.com. ‘He’d be so thrilled to know his story has reached that far’
John (pictured with his wife and son) was an atomic veteran who worked on nuclear testing at Camp Desert Rock in Nevada
Michael’s father (pictured with his wife) was supportive of his endeavors and helped him start his cannabis vaporizer company in his final years
Michael added that his father also had a ‘great sense of humor’ and would get a kick out of the QR code he made for his gravestone.
‘You know what he’d be saying about this product? He’d be saying, “This is one of those products that people are dying to use,”‘ he joked.
The self-described futurist recalled how his dad helped him start his cannabis vaporizer company in his final years.
Michael was initially hesitant to tell him about his product because his father was firmly against marijuana use when he was growing up, but he ended up receiving his full support.
‘I was really worried that he would look down on me. He did quite the contrary,’ he explained. ‘He helped me bring this company to life. He helped me bring the product to life, and it gave me a lot of courage.’
Michael said his father had all of his faculties before he died and was ‘smart and witty until the end.’ John had cared for his wife, Elizabeth, for as long as he could while she battled dementia.
Years after his father’s death, he was inspired to share a photo of the QR code he made for his gravestone on LinkedIn, where it went viral.
‘He helped me bring this company to life,’ Michael said. ‘He helped me bring the product to life, and it gave me a lot of courage’
Michael wants to revolutionize how we pay tribute to the dead and make cemeteries more immersive with the addition of QR codes on gravestones
‘Everyone’s been scanning it, and when someone scans it, I know where they are in the world,’ he explained. ‘This has been scanned all over the world — even Korea, where my father fought in the Korean War. He’d be so thrilled to know that his story has reached that far.’
Michael made the QR code reprogrammable, so he can redirect it to any location he wants. It can go to a certain page one day or play a song the next. He plans on making another one for his brother, who died of ALS at age 58.
The designer is not the first to make a QR code in someone’s honor, but he wants to make the practice more widespread and revolutionize how we pay tribute to the dead.
‘I think we can get people over the idea that being in a graveyard is morbid. It’s not. it’s a beautiful place to go, actually,’ he said. ‘And if QR codes were there, I think people would scan them.’
Michael is now working to build this technology with After Cloud, a UK-based company that developed an app for preserving family history and digital memories.
He has since redirected his father’s QR code, which initially went to a page on Legacy.com, to After Cloud.
‘I’m looking for a graveyard or cemetery that would like to build a new immersive experience,’ he said. ‘Let’s put these on all these graves.’
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