Munster’s Community Veterans Memorial was the perfect backdrop for a Memorial Day Service.
Hundreds of people stood, sat in chairs and relaxed on the grass as they listened to speakers, music and the traditional 21-gun salute. The latter was conducted with a ceremonial cannon.
“My late husband was in the service and we always came to this event together,” said Munster resident Edith Young, as she settled in with her lawn chair. “Now, I continue to attend. I know his spirit — as well as many other veterans — is here as well.”
During the ceremony, U.S. Rep. Peter Visclosky, D-Gary, addressed the crowd, commenting on the strides that are being taken to make sure that a veteran’s information is fully communicated in a timely and efficient manner after their service to their country has ended. This goal would assist in the areas of health benefits.
“We are working with all military branches, so this information will be readily available when the veteran and/or his family needs it,” Visclosky said.
Ed Lukas, of Schererville, served in U.S. Army during the Korean War, joining after high school. Three of his friends did the same.
“We were at war, so we knew enlisting was the right thing to do,” the 84-year-old former paratrooper said. “The four of us stayed together through basic training before we were sent to other bases.”
The VFW Post 2697 and American Legion Post 16 coordinated the Memorial Day ceremony.
The Munster High School Band, directed by Bret Winternheiner, performed patriotic songs throughout the service. Winternheiner felt his students, as well as the audience, were gaining many benefits from the day’s agenda.
“This (event) gives them the opportunity to reflect on the moment — to experience a different side of life,” he said. “And to see exactly why we celebrate Memorial Day.”
The Foreman family of Munster has attended all of their town’s holiday celebrations since moving to the area from Chicago two years ago.
The Memorial Day schedule was no exception.
“Although I haven’t served in the military myself, we have many family members and friends who did,” Pauly Foreman said, as he and his wife Renae settled into lawn chairs. “We are here to honor them and all the others who fought so we could have our freedom.”
The Munster High School Beginning Men’s choir also displayed their talents at the service.
“This is fun, I like music,” said 6-year-old Patience Jones of Dyer, as she straightened the blanket she was sitting on with her grandmother Kathy Jones. “I like the flag too and all the colors.”
Jones knew Patience was a little too young to understand the full meaning of the holiday yet, but still gave her a brief history lesson on why Memorial Day was honored all over the nation.
“Her grandfather was in Vietnam and others in our family fought as well, so I believe she should know as much as can absorb at her age,” she said. “As she gets older — and we keep coming to events like this — she will see things in a clearer light.”
After the ceremony, many of the attendees toured the memorial at Veterans Park, which is 6.5-acre parcel of land displaying bronze and granite sculptures that portray the most important military conflicts that formed the 20th century.
“I’m impressed all the way around with this morning’s ceremony,” said Delilah Gary of Dyer, as she began the trail that circled the various war monuments. “The ritual of bringing to mind that serving in any capacity in any branch of the Service is something that should not be downplayed and is something every American should keep mindful of.”
David Southwell of Dyer and his two sons, Luke, 17 and Eric, 11, also took the trek uphill to visit the various stations.
“This place is spiritually moving,” David said, as they stopped at the WWII Home Front Monument. “It’s like a world-class art exhibit, everyone should see this.”