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Nobody is too tough to cry….

Nobody is too tough to cry

by Daniel Moran, G.M. Calumet Park Cemetery

I turned my car onto a rutted, dirt road.  About a quarter of a mile in, I passed a rusted gate hanging half off the hinges.  The house was really not much more than a shack with an old couch on the porch and windows that were in bad need of repair.  It was almost dark, that time when you can see a light on in a window when the sky is darker than it is light.  There was no garage and no car, so I was wondering if my appointment was even home.  I was there to talk about new windows, or at least storm windows, and a quick glance showed that the house was actually deteriorating around the frames so I was asking myself if we could even do anything for this homeowner.

I parked, picked my way past the rotted porch floorboards and knocked.  I confess, I knocked lightly as I was hoping nobody was home so I wouldn’t waste my time on this lead.  As I turned to leave, I heard a male voice shout that I should come in.  “Crap!” I thought as I turned the doorknob and tentatively entered the house.  “Hello, my name is Dan and I am from the replacement window company,” I said as I slowly obeyed the command.  The living room was very small, maybe 10 x 10 and there was a worn-out recliner straight on from the front door.

The man sat under a very low wattage lamp.  There was a small area rug, an old black and white TV, and a simple black phone on a tin tray table next to him along with an ash tray spilling out cigarette butts.  There was a pile of wood shavings on the floor in front of his chair and he was whittling something as I approached.  “Get a chair from the kitchen and come talk to me about my windows.   This past winter was brutal on me.”

I pulled up a chair and sat, and my heart was racing.  The man, we’ll call him Bob for this story, had no legs, a right arm with a hand that had nubs for fingers, no left arm, long, oily hair hanging down past his beard and an eye patch over his left eye.  His face was scarred and his voice was ragged, presumably from years of smoking.

I gave a quick presentation of storm windows because it seemed obvious he had little to no money, which turned out to be correct.  But in the time we were together, we found a common bond.  He was a door gunner in Vietnam during the TET Offensive in ’68, and went from a small-town boy to a torn apart body of a man whose heart and soul was ripped away along with his lost limbs and eye.  In fact, as I shared some of my story of being a ‘Nam alumni, he poured out his pain.  This meeting of veterans was in 1984, 14 years after his being torn apart from concentrated ground fire.  It was always the goal of the Viet Cong to take out a door gunner when possible to stop some of the devastating M-50 machine gun attacks from the sky.

He shared his story of being in the hospital for over a year, and of the complications from taking so many rounds.  At one point, he pulled up his shirt and showed his body; riddled with scars.  I cried as he related the pain, the loss of hope, the confusion, the loneliness and the isolation his life had become.  He nodded to a purple heart next to his phone and bitterly mocked what he got for his trouble as a soldier in Vietnam.

We talked for a couple of hours and I finally said I had to leave, but that I would be back.  I promised.  I told him that, one way or another, he was getting new windows for his house.  And I was good to my word as I split the cost with the owner of the company after sharing Bob’s story.  By the way, we had to give him a new fence, too, because I tore his fence up trying to back out in pitch dark as I was squinting through my reddened eyes from the experience of meeting Bob.

I am sharing this story because Memorial Day is upon us once again.  Many years have passed and nearly all of us “old timer Vietnam vets” still live out our night terrors.  For me, I took my uniform off in 1971…48 years ago.  But there are living vets from WWII, Korea, and all the mid-East wars right up to newly created vets leaving the service as you read this as people that served their country with pride, and dignity and honor.  These people, your grandparents and parents, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters and sons and daughters need to be remembered, particularly those whose deaths happened as a result of time served in our great military.  Veterans Day is meant for all of these people, and Memorial Day is for the departed.  However, I believe that there are many walking dead among us who lost a big part of who they might have been by fighting for this county, and they need to be honored and remembered every day.

I ask that all who read this article find time on Sunday, May 26 at 1:00, rain or shine, to come out to Calumet Park Cemetery and join with other like-minded people who wish to make a show of appreciation to our men and women of the armed forces.

People like Bob lost everything.  With his torn body, mind and soul, he had a lifetime that was so different than he could have ever imagined before he put on his first pair of Army boots.  He and all of his brothers and sisters in arms deserve an hour of respect and genuine thanks.

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Oh, the wood shavings.  The picture of the wood carving of the wizard shown with this article was carved by good old, one eyed, one armed, no fingered Bob as a gift to me in March of 1984.  It took him a couple of months to whittle it from a branch that came down with his fence from my inability to back up a car when leaving his home that winter night.  It hangs on my office wall to this day as a reminder that there can always be something good coming from something bad.  Bob was willing to share a couple of his hours with me, and created a work of art kindled by our mutual respect for time served for this country.  To me, this simple work of Bob has always had more meaning than all the medals that were awarded to me for my work in Nam.

I never saw Bob again, but that time together still occupies a part of my heart that reminds me that nobody is too tough to cry.  Never forget that “there but through the grace of God go I”.

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Top cemetery in the country awarded to Calumet Park Cemetery from American Cemetery and Cremation magazine…

ACE Winner  Click here for the article announcing Calumet Park Cemetery as the winner of the best cemetery in the country.  Thanks to all the employees and owners of Calumet Park Cemetery.  It is due to the dedication and true spirit of service to our neighbors that inspires the Calumet team to be the best.  Like the Wizard of Oz, we always knew that we had a brain, a heart and courage, and now we have bragging rights that our feelings about what we do is officially recognized.   Calumet Park has received runner-up awards a number of times so it is appreciated to be the recipient of this honor from the American Cemetery and Cremation magazine (celebrating their 90th anniversary just as Calumet Park Cemetery is doing the same…both founded in 1928).

For info on prearranging you cemetery and funeral needs, call 219-769-8803.

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Scenes from Memorial Weekend 2018…

Bronze statue on top of Veteran Columbarium in the Veteran Section (Section 17)

Calumet Park thanks all who visited the park this weekend to pay their respects.  Thousands of cars passed through the gates over the weekend with people coming out to remember their lost loved ones.

Battle of the Bulge tribute monument. Next visit to the cemetery, get a close-up look at the monument. There are scenes etched into the granite of the battle. On the back of the monument is a map of Europe showing how the battle lines between good and evil bulged but never broke with the good guys winning, thanks to our wonderful troops.

Video Monument showing a short photo history of Paul Vogel Sr., former CEO of Calumet Park Cemetery, with his motorcycle and with the Harley Hears. Paul passed away a few months ago and is sorely missed.

Veteran Section with thousands of flags flying high in honor of all vets buried at Calumet Park Cemetery.

Special Veteran Monument overlooking the thousands of graves of yesterdays heros…all those who proudly wore the uniform of the US military.

Awaiting the color guard…

Wolff Gang choral group from Hobart High School.

Invocation for Veterans Memorial Ceremony with Pastor Dan Jacobsen from Bethel Church in Hobart

Captain James Wiltshire, USNR (ret) giving the keynote address for the Veterans Ceremony.

Music provided by Merrillville High School Symphonic Band…

Merrillville High School band.

Presentation of the wreaths before the Veterans Memorial…

Some of America’s finest ready for gun salute.

One of the many religious services held throughout the park on Memorial Day.

Harry Stemph, retired military and member of the Knights of Columbus, getting ready for procession to Catholic Mass at the Priest’s Circle.

  For information on pre-planning your cemetery and funeral needs, call 219-769-8803 or stop in and talk with one of our no-pressure family service counselors.

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(click for pics) Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville getting ready for Memorial Weekend…

Meditation Pond and Niches with new falls. Next step will be to shock the water to eliminate the algae.

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Meditation Falls – water flows into pond via two small tributaries.

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Meditation Pond with cremation niches and waterfall.

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Tom Music, Assistant Grounds superintendent and Tim McClure, Superintendent, inspect the new waterfalls at Calumet Park Cemetery.

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One of two columbariums on the north shore of the Meditation Pond now available for placement of ashes (cremains). The columbariums are able to hold either one or two final placements. The granite fronts may be etched with pictures (and names and date) of those families who choose this form of final placement that will last many lifetimes, or designs with names and dates of those inurned.

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Granite flag marking the beginning of the Veteran Section (Section 17).

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Large granite flag at the southeast corner of the Veteran Section. The flag is on a raised hill and will be landscaped in the near future.

 

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Mausoleum complex behind the new granite flag feature in the Veteran Section of the cemetery. Ask about the special program offered by Calumet Park Cemetery designed to save veterans a great deal of the cost of final arrangements. (call 769-8803)

The Veteran Memorial Columbarium is located in the Veteran Section. New this year are the five flagpoles that will have the branch of service flags flying high. They will be in place by Memorial Day.

Veteran Columbarium with branch service flags.

Marines

Coast Guard

Army

Air Force

Navy

The Memorial Weekend service for veterans will be at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 27.  Pastor Dan Jacobsen will deliver the invocation.  The service is organized by The American Legion First District and will have a number of dignitaries speaking, including the Honorable Peter Visclosky,  with Captain James Wiltshire, USNR (ret) presenting the Memorial Day address.

Special thanks go to the Merrillville High School Symphonic Band, Wolff Gang singing group from Hobart High School, Mattie Willis singing My Buddy and Tom Cushing playing Taps.  Other participants will be Tim Conner, Joe Simonetto, Marty Dzieglowicz, Judy Morris, Dewey Long, Denise Delaney-Wrolen, David Tretter, Chaplain Bob Downy, the Marine Corps Howlin Mad Detachment 93 and the many who make up the color guard.

This event offers an opportunity for all to show their respect and appreciation for all that our veterans have done to keep this country safe for democracy.  To them and to their loved ones, Calumet Park salutes you and offers our most sincere thanks.

Questions regarding any of the Memorial Weekend’s many services, or for info about the annual fireworks on Saturday night, call 219-769-8803.  Calumet Park is located at the corner of 73rd and Taft in Merrillville just one mile north of Route 30.  See you there!  When you call, ask about the many specials available for Memorial Weekend with the sale ending June 14.

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Makeovers can be so satisfying…

IMG_1113Calumet Park Cemetery is giving a facelift to the mausoleums in preparation for Memorial Weekend.  Over time, the buildings have become an eyesore due to weather, pollution, and who knows what.  On your next visit to the park, drive past the three mausoleums at the west side of the cemetery.  Something old can look like something new with some tender, loving care which is proven by the restoration shown above as Calumet Park gets ready for the thousands of families that will visit Calumet Park Cemetery over Memorial Weekend.

For information on preplanning your cemetery and funeral arrangements, call 219-769-8803 and let us answer your questions about this need that we all have.  http://www.mycalumetpark.com

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New flag at Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville….

 

 

What is 20′ x 30′ and flies 80 feet in the sky?  Answer, the new flag flying over the entrance to Calumet Park Cemetery … 80 foot flagpole and huge flag … we salute all Americans!  For Memorial Weekend, the following are specially priced:  25% off the Veteran Memorial Columbarium, 25% off the new Meditation Pond Columbariums (see pictures above), 25% off a new private mausoleum on a pond with a fountain next to the original community mausoleum, 25% off specific graves (ask a Family Service Counselor to show them to you…new sections, 50% off all selections in the Black Monument/bronze flush marker section, and 15% off all monuments and markers.  We can deliver to any cemetery in NW Indiana.

 

 

For more information, call 219-769-8802

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Benefits for veterans on YouTube…

Go to YouTube and enter Calumet Park Cemetery Benefits for veterans

Calumet Park Cemetery will be posting short informational videos on YouTube periodically.  Some videos that will be coming soon will be tours of the cemetery and of the three funeral homes:  Calumet Park Funeral Chapel on Taft in Merrillville (219-736-5840), Calumet Park Funeral Chapel on County Line Road between Portage and Hobart just north of the Apple Orchard (219-940-3791) and Rendina Funeral Home (219-980-11410) at the edge of Gary and Merrilliville on Cleveland.

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Mourning the loss of Paul Vogel, Sr…

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On the morning of September 28, 2017 Paul Vogel passed away.  Paul was the CEO of Calumet Park Cemetery and Funeral Chapels in Merrillville and in Hobart and Rendina Funeral Home.  Paul will always be in the hearts of anyone who ever had the pleasure to meet him.  He was a truly great patriot and was dedicated to any veteran-related clause.  More info and details of his funeral will be forthcoming.patriot guard funeral service 0260732015-10-07-09-02-22031-e1506630684801.jpg115.jpg 151.jpg2012-10-12-08-24-40.jpg2013-05-31-03-38-24.jpg2013-05-31-04-03-22.jpg2014-03-29-05-27-08.jpg2014-03-29-05-55-19.jpg2014-03-30-05-16-17.jpg2017-02-01-03-40-24.jpg

Go to calumetparkcemetery.com for obituary and funeral scheduling details.

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From the archives….

2017-02-03-20-18-22Found in the archives, the invitation that was sent out for the dedication of the Catholic Sections from back in 1933.  Calumet Park, always and still family owned and operated.

2017-02-03-20-18-47 2017-02-03-20-18-54From its humble beginnings in 1928, Calumet Park has grown to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the country.  Besides the cemetery, Calumet Park now owns and operates two crematories and three funeral homes:  Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Merrillville, Rendina Funeral Home in Gary and Calumet Park Funeral Chapel and Crematory in Hobart.

For information on pre-planning your cemetery and funeral arrangements, call 219-769-8803 or stop in for a tour of any of our facilities.  Find out more about us by reading some of the posts in this blog or go to http://calumetparkcemetery.com

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You are invited to the Rendina Funeral Home open house on September 29

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The Rendina family has served the community since 1961.  Thousands of families have had their funeral needs taken care of by Tony and his family, and now the torch has been passed to Calumet Park Cemetery.  By combining this completely renovated Rendina Funeral Home facility with Calumet Park Cemetery’s rich tradition of “family first”, even a casual visitor will be impressed.

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Stop in between 5 and 7 on September 29th and say hi to your old friend Tony.  Refreshments will be served and you will be able to take a casual tour of the facility and see for yourself how comfortable and well appointed the remodel is.

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Harley Hearse for the actual last ride of your life. Available only at Rendina Funeral Home and other Calumet Park affiliates.

For For over 53 years the Rendina family served your families in a tradition of excellence.  And now, the continuation of this remarkable family’s life’s work is going to be carried on by Calumet Park.  Meet some of our staff and enjoy an evening reminiscing about old times and making new friends.  The funeral home is located at 5100 Cleveland Street and you can call 980-1141 for more information and directions.  It’s close proximity to Calumet Park Cemetery makes this a perfect marriage between Rendina and family owned and operated Calumet Park Cemetery.

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