A very special number: 11-11-11

Written by Mike Siroky. Posted in Featured

Published on November 09, 2011 with No Comments

It is a very special number for a very special day.

When 11-11-11 hits for the only time this century, Veterans Day will be celebrated.

Veterans all over the area will be honored and will gather as Veterans Day 2011 is celebrated on Friday, Nov. 11.

It will be just two months after the decade remembrance of 9/11 and a little more than six months after the architect of that evil assault on our liberties – the only attack in the United States by outside forces wince the War of 1812 – was run to ground by U.S. soldiers. The resident president has announced all the troops in Iraq will be home for the holidays.

Never before has such a confluence existed in which to honor all soldiers who put their lives on the line for us.

Some gatherings will be small, intimate groupings.

Munster will celebrate with a remembrance dinner. Hobart will have one, too, as will Valparaiso. The Porter American Legion is having a dinner for its veterans on Wednesday, Nov. 9, then laying a wreath at is own monument on Veterans Day itself.

So, some celebrations will be areawide, as was the first of many celebrations on Nov. 5, as tradition dictates on the Saturday before Veterans Day, at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Stoney Run County Park.

David Ridenour, a member of the Sons of the American Legion, has been involved in honoring Vietnam vets for almost 30 years.

“They didn’t get their due,” he says of the now acknowledged poor reaction to the end of that conflict.

“This is mainly sponsored by Vietnam vets because they were treated so badly,” he said.

Still, the groundswell of support in the most-recent decades has been rewarding.

“We don’t have too much of a problem getting speakers.” Ridenour said. And he is proud to be among the small group of organizes for the annual event. Having the event on a Saturday encourages younger people and families to come to this kickoff remembrance, irregardless of on which day Veterans Day itself lands.  

 “We want to continue to build it,” Ridenour said.

Having a permanent site is rewarding because anyone can go anytime. “You just go out there and reflect,” he said.

Beyond that, he said, everyone should visit Washington at least once in a lifetime. “The whole city is breathtaking. You don’t actually realize the magnitude of Washington until you get out there.”

Of course, he is proud of the Region’s own memorial site at Stoney Run.

Marine Company A, 6th Engineer Battalion of Gary established the park in 1973.

The family of David M. Baum started it. He was one of the 261 veterans from Lake County who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.

David’s brother, John, also served in Vietnam. As the family noticed the lack of celebration for those returning from Vietnam, they started a fund in David’s name. From this fund came the initial money to start the memorial.

By 1982, several veterans’ organizations joined with the Lake County Parks  Dept. to develop the official memorial

On Memorial Day 1984, the celebration included the completion of 8,000 face bricks and 80 yards of concrete, for a wall topped with 460 feet of limestone encircling the memorial. Hundreds of Vietnam Veterans came to that first celebration.

The second construction phase added a face on the memorial’s south side with the construction of two wing walls. The other walls were raised and 14,000 paving bricks were in place.  New landscaping was done by the 1986 Memorial Day service

Early in 1989 it was decided the names of the 262 Lake County servicemen who sacrificed their lives during the Vietnam War would be added. The list was compiled by high school students.

On August 28, 1989, the Lake County Commissioners signed a proclamation declaring the memorial at Stoney Run County Park the official Lake County Vietnam Veterans Memorial. 

Phase III was the addition of the names in granite and the replacement of the single flagpole with three flagpoles.

This phase took two years to complete with the official dedication taking place on May 4, 1991. The black granite plaques listing the names of those who died during the conflict pays permanent tribute to Lake County’s sacrifice.

As 1999 approached, the memorial walkways and walls were in need of repair and the committee thought it was time to show unity and appreciation for all veterans. A grant was secured through the Lake County Parks from the state of Indiana to redesign the walkways.  Construction began again and on Veterans Day, 1999, the VVMC fulfilled another goal as they dedicated a second monument:  Dedicated To All Who Have Served – Thank You Veterans.

Stoney Run County Park is located between Crown Point and Hebron, just north of route 231. 

VFW Post 5365 in Hobart is located at 540 S. Indiana St. For more information, call 219-942-6474

VFW Post 988 in Valparaiso is located at 705 Roosevelt. For more information, call 219-464-3668.

VFW Post 2511 in Porter is located at 1290 Wagner Road. For more information, call 219-926-4441.

The Chesterton American Legion Post 170 is located at 798 Wabash Ave. For more information, call 219-926-4577.

The Valparaiso American Legion Post 94 is located at 4 Monroe St. For more information, call 219-531-9130.

The Portage American Legion is located at 5675 Mulberry Ave. For more information, call 219-762-3541.

The Hobart American Legion Post 54 is located at 208 S. Linda St.  For more information, call 219-947-2054.

The Knox American Legion Post 131 is located at 707 S. Heaton St. For more information, call 574-772-4393.

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About Mike Siroky

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the above excellent column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Mike Siroky is a writer and editor. He is a native of Northwest Indiana. He has worked in media from coast to coast. To contact Mike, email mikel@the chronicleNWI.com

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