Sunday, July 3, 2016

Let Freedom Ring

by Dan Applegate
President, The Arlington Memorial Gardens

July 4th is a holiday when vast numbers of U.S. flags populate gravesites on our grounds. To those Arlington visitors setting the flags, it’s another way to vividly memorialize and pay homage to their deceased loved one signaling not only their love for the deceased but also indirectly and publicaly identifying their loved one as a patriot.

Love of country and patriotism are the defining meanings of Independence Day. We celebrate our nation’s birthday and express our collective sense of national pride through parades, festivals and firework displays. And while we’re focused on such things, it’s a good time to reflect on our nation’s greatness and what separates and distinguishes it from all others around the world.

Obviously, one way to gauge our greatness is through our enormous economic and military might.  Despite experiencing an extended era of political incompetence, intransigence and malfeasance, and regardless of the raging growth of other foreign powers, it’s undeniable that America has managed to maintain its standing as the world’s strongest power. Indeed, America remains the world’s one true superpower.

But economic and military might is not, and should not be, what is celebrated on July 4th. Instead, we should celebrate those values that, throughout our history, have enabled us to form a “more perfect union.” Among that list of core attributes would be individuality, freedom, liberty, democracy, fairness, justice, equality and diversity.

In the challenging times in which we now live, when the disfiguring blight of terrorism has scared our collective psyche and rattled our confidence, it’s easy to slip from patriotism to the crudeness of nationalism with terrifying speed leading some to believe that patriotism means “my country – right or wrong.” Of course, as Americans we’re all biased and we want to and hope that we can always support our nation and its policies. Sometimes, however, patriotism means dissent and criticism.  As writer and journalist Sydney J. Harris once commented, “The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war.”

Today as we celebrate the events that took place long ago in Philadelphia, as we raise flags in places both public and private, as they appear on graves in Arlington, all in the name of patriotism, let’s not forget that as the descendants of those original 1776 patriots, we have a sacred duty to hold ourselves to the values so eloquently articulated in the Declaration of Independence.  Doing so is how we truly "Proclaim Liberty Throughout All The Land And Unto All The Inhabitants Thereof.”

Daniel Applegate became part of The Arlington Memorial Gardens organization in 2001 and has worked in the cemetery industry since 1981, including serving as Secretary/Treasurer and then as President of the Ohio state cemetery association.  He was appointed by Ohio Governor George Voinovich and served two terms on the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission, Ohio's cemetery oversight agency. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University holding a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Don’t Take Dad For Granted

by Dan Applegate
President, The Arlington Memorial Gardens

Today we observe Father’s Day, a day designated specifically to honor fathers everywhere and to celebrate fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the positive role that fathers play in society.  That alone makes it a feel-good, Hallmark kind of a day.  But while it certainly has meaning, it’s not on par or celebrated with the same emotional intensity as Mother’s Day.

That might sound exaggerated and provocative, but in general terms, it’s undeniably true.  Obviously, most of us recognize that fathers, being one-half of the traditional “parent package,”  occupy a special place in our lives.  While we love them dearly, their influence and role in our lives is often overshadowed by the unique relationship we have with our mothers.

The maternal bond between mother and offspring is a remarkable testament to the sheer intensity of that relationship.  Simply put, mothers provide us with the primal nurturing we all need and require to become emotionally sensitive.  I love my own mother because of her great goodness, kindness and integrity; but, also because she was always there to provide unconditional love and support.  On the other hand, the significance of fatherhood has been generally recognized as more about providing for the family and less about nuturing.

This has led to fathers being sterotyped as vague Archie Bunker-like authority figures who are present in the home but frequently detached from, and uninvolved with, the rest of the family, spending their time at home in their recliner napping or watching sports on TV.  However, that caricature is wildly unfair and inaccurate.

While it may be true that dads tend to be more self-contained, separate and less nurturing than moms, it’s also generally true that they are more thick-skined than moms.  This tougher attitude teaches the children to become more resilient and durable, more amenable to change  and enabled to better navigate the difficulties that they will certainly confront throughout their life.  My father, a child of the Great Depression and a veteran of World War II had an exacting signature style of holding his children accountable.  It was a style that I resented until I became mature enough to appreciate and honor the high quality of his character and the fact that my ability to stand on my own two feet and roll with the punches was his great gift to me.
We often take our fathers for granted.  Beware of the bad rap we sometimes give them.  And on this Father’s Day, let’s reflect on and celebrate the great qualities of our fathers and be thankful we’ve had the benefit of their love, unique style and influence.

Daniel Applegate became part of The Arlington Memorial Gardens organization in 2001 and has worked in the cemetery industry since 1981, including serving as Secretary/Treasurer and then as President of the Ohio state cemetery association.  He was appointed by Ohio Governor George Voinovich and served two terms on the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission, Ohio's cemetery oversight agency. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University holding a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day Provokes Our Best Impulses

By Dan Applegate
President, The Arlington Memorial Gardens

Every year on the final Monday of May, just as spring gives way to the ascendancy of summer, our nation takes a collective breath and pauses to remember.  Memorial Day, its roots firmly ensconced in the post-Civil War impulse to honor those who died on the battlefields, has evolved into a more all-purpose moment of remembrance.  True, its identity remains preeminently imbued with patriotic notions of honoring those who have died while serving our nation; but, it cohabitates with Americans flocking to cemeteries everywhere to decorate graves and remember non-military loved-ones also.  In fact, Memorial Day rituals offer an admirable insight into our basic, but admirable, humanity.

In a still dominant Judeo-Christian society, we remain deeply faithful and vividly aware of the ecosystem of life and death; that is, the remarkably precise balance of death pulling life in much the same way that the moon pulls the tides.  Within the context of conceding to both giveth and taketh, we yearn to remember our dead.  Remembering is part of the grief process.  The grieving that follows a death comes not only from losing someone, but also from the loss of memory.  Because, the force of death that snuffs out a life threatens a second savage blow by snuffing out the memory of that person as well.  That’s why, I suspect, some people hold onto the pain of a death long after the death itself: it remains the last vestiges of their connection with the deceased.  In this formulation, letting go of the pain sadly equates to letting go of their memories.


However, perpetuating memories and celebrating life, not death, is our primary purpose at Arlington.  Of course we recognize that cemeteries are indicative, as well as reminders, of death.  After all, the ancient Greeks referred to the cemetery or “koimeterion” as “a sleeping place.”  But the unique primacy of the cemetery in our society is as a spiritual set-aside, a final resting place that permanently stakes out a distinctly verifiable spot which metaphorically proclaims “this person lived and mattered.”  Therefore, in sharp contrast to remembering death, cemetery visitation is actually much more about glorifying the memories of our loved-ones.

However, the historically unique role claimed by cemeteries as the final resting place and the “go to” destination for remembering may be waning due to, among other factors, the galloping growth of cremation.  While the debate over the actual practice of cremation is a matter of conscience, preference or faith, the parallels between the rise of cremation and the decline in final disposition (burial or entombment) are undeniable.  Once the body has been reduced to a small container of cremated remains, many people feel liberated from cemetery arrangements and often choose to retain the cremation urn at home or perhaps scatter the “ashes” themselves at a venue of personal significance – a park, a golf course, a river or even the ocean, rather than commit them to a cemetery.

While at first blush the new sense of freedom made possible by cremation may minimize some practical concerns - as in final expenses, or lower some logistical hurdles - as in travel and transportation, but let me suggest that the freedom and convenience of the moment may one day turn to regret and disillusionment for the deceased’s survivors.  Unfortunately, urns can be and often are misplaced.  And, golf courses for instance, are notoriously unreliable for their longevity; they often become housing developments with that picturesque green on the 14th hole becoming someone’s future basement.

So, before we too hastily disavow the utility of the cemetery based upon the new found conveniences of modern society, including but not merely cremation, allow me to urge caution and deep reflection.  The concept of cremation, as opposed to burial, is personally appealing to me for a number of reasons.  But, I simply can’t divorce myself from the idea of leaving my name behind on some specific site to lay claim to the fact that I “was here.”  Call that either insecurity or conceit; but, there’s a reason why cemeteries are visited by hundreds of thousands of people over Memorial Day weekend.  And, it has nothing at all to do with self-doubt or arrogance.  Rather, it’s our still vital and admirable impulse to remember.  We dare not allow that to be sacrificed to convenience.  Because, once we do, we will have also sacrificed an important component of our own humanity.

Daniel Applegate became part of The Arlington Memorial Gardens organization in 2001 and has worked in the cemetery industry since 1981, including serving as Secretary/Treasurer and then as President of the Ohio state cemetery association.  He was appointed by Ohio Governor George Voinovich and served two terms on the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission, Ohio's cemetery oversight agency. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University holding a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Even in Chaos, the Flag Inspires

By Dan Applegate
President, The Arlington Memorial Gardens

Stop and think about it.

There’s a long list of concerns that divide Americans: social, moral, race, religion, ethnicity and of course the ubiquitous, fratricidal political campaigns that seem to reach new levels of ferociousness every election cycle.  The impulse of me against you and us versus them is enormously galvanizing and has the potential, if fully realized, to take us in dangerous directions.

Yet, in the midst of all of the chaos of stark differences and dark divisions, the American flag is the one iconic emblem that has the power to reach deep inside of us and touch a common, primal nerve of pride and patriotism – unleashing emotions of profound attachment to it.  In times of victory - Iwo Jima for instance, and of loss – think of Ground Zero in New York City, the flag serves as our focus for unity.


As we celebrate Memorial Day weekend here at Arlington, we simply couldn’t think of a better way to pay tribute to pay tribute to our loved-ones, living or deceased, military or civilian, than with an American flag erected to honor them and recognize the importance “that special someone” is playing or has played in our life.

The Field of Memories is a gift to the community and we commend it to the people of the community this Memorial Day weekend with the belief that those who visit the field will find it as memorable, meaningful as awe inspiring as we do.

A special thanks goes out to our sponsors who helped underwrite this event.  Our sponsors are:


Daniel Applegate became part of The Arlington Memorial Gardens organization in 2001 and has worked in the cemetery industry since 1981, including serving as Secretary/Treasurer and then as President of the Ohio state cemetery association.  He was appointed by Ohio Governor George Voinovich and served two terms on the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission, Ohio's cemetery oversight agency. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University holding a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Remember Me, Remember You

By Daniel Applegate
President, Arlington Memorial Gardens

While we might not openly discuss it, there’s a sentiment, a hope if you will, that is common to us all:  we have an undeniable urge to be remembered once we are gone. This impulse is so strong that great shrines have been created over millennia to remind us for whom they were built -- think the Great Pyramids. That, of course, is the most obvious example; however, we all conceive this singular notion that our time on earth is worthy of a legacy.

How do we do build a legacy? In his Bestselling Book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” author Stephen Covey reflects on that question and then prescribes what he calls “beginning with the end in mind.” To begin with the end in mind is, according to Covey, “to begin today with the image, picture, or paradigm of the end of your life as your frame of reference or the criterion by which everything else is examined. By keeping that end clearly in mind, you can make certain that whatever you do on any particular day does not violate the criteria you have defined as supremely important and that each day of your life contributes in a meaningful way to the vision you have of your life as a whole.”

Those are heady words and when deeply considered, they provide wonderful insights on how to live a deeply meaningful life so that, when it ends, you’ll be not only remembered, but remembered fondly, perhaps even with reverence.

But remembering is not a passive process. There’s something more at work because memories are distinctly bilateral – indelibly involving or intertwined with others. Perhaps the best example is within family units where great memories are often centered around big events: births, baptisms, birthdays, graduations, weddings and anniversaries. Yet, equally great memories can be created during other, less luminous family gatherings: picnics, potlucks, game nights, and of course, the just around the corner Holidays.

Remembering isn’t just about you; it’s really about all of the people in your life: family, friends, work colleagues, and professional associates. It’s that mutual connection to them that counts and brings meaning not only to your life but to their life as well.

“Remember Me” is really an appeal to be remembered.  How will others remember you? Well, most of that is in your hands. But, memorializing your life is a process where we can provide our expertise – because it’s what we do here at Arlington. Memorializing doesn’t just happen - it’s an intentional process that takes thoughtful planning.  Remember Me? Give us a call and let us help.  

Daniel Applegate became part of the Arlington Memorial Gardens organization in 2001 and has worked in the cemetery industry since 1981, including serving as Secretary/Treasurer and then as President of the Ohio state cemetery association.  He was appointed by Ohio Governor George Voinovich and served two terms on the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission, Ohio's cemetery oversight agency. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University holding a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Loss Is Not a Tragedy

By Daniel Applegate
President, Arlington Memorial Gardens

This past Saturday afternoon, with three seconds left in the game, Michigan State’s field goal kicker, a stiff wind at his back, calmly booted the ball cleanly through the uprights giving the Spartans an unlikely upset win over the Ohio State Buckeyes. I was there at the Horseshoe. I sat through the cold and the rain and witnessed the futility. The football Buckeyes win with astounding regularity and as any loyal Buckeye fan will tell you, losing hurts. It’s even more painful given that this year’s uber-talented team was predicted for greatness, not to mention a second consecutive national championship. As the last second ticked from the clock, those hopes and dreams all but evaporated.

Driving home on I-71, my son-in-law and I discussed the game, lamented the loss and talked about how things might have been different. We were both disappointed and frustrated but when I tuned into a Columbus post-game radio show, I was appalled to hear the hosts, two nincompoops, who were quite literally screeching, pointing fingers, demanding accountability for the loss and all but calling for the guillotine for at least one OSU assistant coach.

It struck me just how kooky those radio jocks sounded because I take a back seat to nobody as an Ohio State fan. I’m from central-Ohio and while I don’t live and die for the Buckeyes, my scarlet blood more than likely contains more than just a hint of gray. I’ve been known to have taken some Buckeye losses pretty hard: the Michigan State game of 1998 and the 2006 national championship loss to Florida both come to mind as vivid examples. Yet, I’ve never really been one of those fans who comes completely unhinged over the result of a game because…well, they’re just games – not life or death tragedies.

You want a tragedy? See Paris, where that single act of terrorism impacted, indeed, transformed the lives of all of the families and friends of those murdered and injured – not to mention the collateral damage to the psyche of a nation. Now that’s a tragedy.

On a more personal level, we see families every day here at Arlington confronting the loss of, and saying final goodbyes to, someone they love dearly. These are life-altering events: some send shock waves through a country, indeed, around the world; others shatter families. But the one commonality is that they are truly tragedies on one scale or another.

While the bookies of the world may have a different take, a loss on a Saturday afternoon might be disappointing, but it’s certainly not a tragedy.

Daniel Applegate became part of the Arlington Memorial Gardens organization in 2001 and has worked in the cemetery industry since 1981, including serving as Secretary/Treasurer and then as President of the Ohio state cemetery association.  He was appointed by Ohio Governor George Voinovich and served two terms on the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission, Ohio's cemetery oversight agency. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University holding a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science.

Monday, November 16, 2015

We Are All Parisians

By Daniel Applegate
President, Arlington Memorial Gardens

Lest we doubted it, evil does exist.  Acting out of a deep-seated hatred that is far beyond comprehension for most of us, terrorists coordinated and carried out a brutal attack this past Friday evening in Paris killing over 120 and injuring well over 300.  Many of those injured are critical and the death toll will likely rise.  The City of Light roils in the darkness that is known as fear, confusion and pain.

Setting aside all of the political implications, there are lessons in the aftermath of this hideous event.  It forces us to make a choice between looking or looking away.  The more comfortable choice is for us to take note, lament, but then look away.  After all, while it’s a tragedy, it’s a European tragedy - we weren’t directly affected.  However, while that might be an altogether understandable reaction, it would actually only blur reality, a reality that calls upon us to focus on our own vulnerabilities, our own mortality and the utter wickedness of this attack.
 So, instead of looking away, we need to look and look hard.  We need to confront the brutal truth that life is unpredictable and frequently teeters back and forth between the polar opposites of comfort and pain.  Whether you’re a believer that the future is dependent on mere fate or the design of the Almighty, the truth is that the next moment, or the moments after that are decisively uncertain.  What began in Paris for so many as a leisurely evening of comfort instantly and diabolically flipped to pain.

The pain of Paris is in fact the pain of humanity.  As our oldest ally, a residual of mutual respect and affection exists between America and France even if our differences sometimes get in the way.  At this troubling moment, Americans need to rally in support of the French people - to share in their pain; to mourn for their dead; and to pray for their injured.

And, to unequivocally declare that…We Are All Parisians.

Daniel Applegate became part of the Arlington Memorial Gardens organization in 2001 and has worked in the cemetery industry since 1981, including serving as Secretary/Treasurer and then as President of the Ohio state cemetery association.  He was appointed by Ohio Governor George Voinovich and served two terms on the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission, Ohio's cemetery oversight agency. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University holding a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science.