Memorial Weekend has always been a time for showing appreciation for the sacrifices made by veterans and their families. A lot is written about the military over the years, both the loss of life in wars throughout history and the physical and mental trauma that men and women in uniform have experienced while serving their country. Please remember that for every soldier or sailor or airman or marine that puts on a uniform and goes to war, their family goes with them.
Never forget the people left behind…the moms and dads, the husbands and wives, the children, siblings and friends. Just before my own mother passed a few years ago she told me of her sleepless nights when I was in Vietnam…some 540 of them. She was not one of the 58,202 families who were told that her son was killed or one of the 303,704 (75,000 severely disabled) who were wounded. But, for her, the possibility of tragedy hammered her for 540 days. It was May of 1971 that I took off the uniform for the last time and it was 20 years later that she told me of her own brand of suffering that was shared by the loved ones of 3,403,100 men and women that went to war in Vietnam.
It is hard to visualize these numbers. Try this: fill up the United Center in Chicago 2.65 times and you will get an idea of how many gave their life in Vietnam. Fill up soldier field five times and you will have the number of GI’s that were wounded in Vietnam. And before you get tired of reading statistics, fill up Notre Dame football stadium 32.7 times and you will get a different perspective on “boys going off to war” as 2,644,000 of America’s best were sent to the jungles of Nam. That means that 2,585,798 came home still breathing.
A number that is incalculable is the number of uniformed individuals who lost their innocence in that war. A number that no one sees and so few conscientiously care about is how many of these men and women came home with mental and emotional scars that no amount of ointment and band aides will ever fix.
Multiply those numbers by all the wars since the beginning of time and understand that Memorial Weekend has real meaning. It is not just a day off for hot dogs and baseball. This year, as a special commemoration to all of those brave citizens, Calumet Park is having a fireworks show with free hayrides for the kids on May 25 at 7:00, a Saturday night. Please come and bring your friends and family.
There has been a strong debate within the staff at Calumet Park Cemetery as to having a fireworks display at a cemetery. The yea’s far outweighed the neigh’s as fireworks goes back to the beginning of our nation. American’s have always had fireworks shows for July 4th and even for New Year’s Eve. Research shows that John Adams wanted fireworks as part of the festivities of our nation’s independence, even before the Declaration of Independence was signed. In a letter to Abigail Adams on July 8, 1776, he wrote that the occasion should be commemorated “with pomp and parade, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forevermore.”
The fireworks show at Calumet Park Cemetery over Memorial Weekend is designed to honor and celebrate the dedication of all who served, and for those who continue to serve. In fact, the staff at Calumet Park has served the needs of our friends and neighbors in NW Indiana and beyond for 85 years, and we wanted a way to express our gratitude to the community. The fireworks will be shot off over an undeveloped part of the cemetery and the traffic flow will be totally under the direction of Tim McClure, grounds superintendent and his crew to ensure proper respect for those interred at Calumet Park and for their families.
Visit us on facebook at mycalumetpark or go to calumetparkcemetery.com for details on the weekend’s events
or call 769-8803 for more information.