Thursday, November 3, 2016

Why We Memorialize

by Dan Applegate
President, The Arlington Memorial Gardens

When, on October 25, the Catholic Church clarified its position on cremation through the new guidelines, Ad Resurgendum Cum Christo (or, To Rise With Christ), it reaffirmed its preference for ground burial but explained when, how and why cremation is acceptable. 

But, while the Church has now unequivocally accepted cremation provided that the motive is based on “sanitary, economic or social considerations,” it has also unambiguously provided guidelines on how cremated remains are to be treated. 

Scattering is prohibited, as is fabricating jewelry or incorporating cremated remains into jewelry. Separating cremated remains is also prohibited. And, finally, the guidelines mandate that cremated remains must not sit on a shelf at home but are to be either buried or placed in a columbarium “in a sacred place” such as a cemetery. 

Ad Resurgendum’s guidelines confirm, validate and add weight to something that we at Arlington have long advocated: memorializing the life of someone who has died. One of our deeply held beliefs is that life is a gift and that noting that a person lived through the act of memorialization merely sanctifies that life. 

While it may indeed be true that after a generation or two the grave will no longer be visited, it is still unarguable that all lives are meaningful and worthy of remembrance. After all, remembering is one of the primary attributes separating the human species from all other living, and dying, creatures.

Perhaps Sir William Gladstone’s observation makes the best case: “Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead, and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land and their loyalty to high ideals.”

Dan 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, October 30, 2016

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Arlington's Own Survivor

by Dan Applegate
President, The Arlington Memorial Gardens

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and throughout this month we have posted information on early detection and various steps that should be taken to help ensure that every preventative measure is taken to ensure that breast cancer is diagnosed in its very earliest stages. Caught early enough, breast cancer becomes very treatable; ignored and left untreated, it becomes a killer.

We have our own breast cancer stories in our company which highlights the enormity of early diagnosis.  Perhaps coincidentally, early in this month of awareness and detection, the wife of one of our employees was diagnosed with breast cancer and is in the very initial phase of treatment. Fortunately, she was almost instinctively alert and aware of the early signs of breast cancer and also proactive in following-up with her doctor.  Consequently, while these things can never be taken lightly, we’re very grateful that early detection has been awarded with an incredibly optimistic diagnosis.

But we also have another story that is worth sharing. Cindy Maril, our Director of Family Care, is also breast cancer survivor. The following is her story:

This past May, I celebrated being a breast cancer survivor of 15 years.  It’s a long time from that very scary time in my life but as I reflect, there is a singularly poignant moment that always comes to mind.

We were living in Chicago at the time and like so many others, we were immersed in our jobs and with raising our family.  I owned a small advertising business and life was a whirlwind.  I’d found a suspicious lump and had gone to Northwestern Hospital and was awaiting the results of a biopsy and mammogram.  I was rattled.   The thought of cancer entering my life was surreal and almost instantly, everything else lacked the importance that just days earlier had seemed momentous.  As we continued our daily activities, fear was my companion and background noise.

We planned our family vacation but…I might have cancer.

My son has a soccer game next Saturday but…I might have cancer.

My daughter needs braces but…I might have cancer.

I’m planting my garden but…I might have cancer.

Our anniversary is next week but…I might have cancer.

The “what ifs” and “maybes” were overwhelming.

The day I received the call confirming that I had cancer is vividly etched in my memory.  I was in my office by myself.  I answered the phone; it was my surgeon asking if I was alone.  Knowing what was coming next, my heart sank.  My doctor hesitated, so I helped her.  In a hushed voice, I somehow forced out the words, “I have cancer, don’t I”?  And in a hushed tone that matched mine, she said, “I’m sorry, but yes you do.”

My worst fears confirmed, I sat silently in my office for a long time considering this savage blow and what it meant to my future.   Do I have enough time to raise my children?  If not, who will?  Will my husband remarry?  Will I get to see my grandchildren?  And as I sat there, dumbfounded at what this new reality might hold for me, something surprising happened: a unique serenity settled in.

“Yes,” I randomly thought, “I’m terrified, but I’m also grateful for all of those things that I do have in my life…my family, dinners together after busy days, soccer games to go to, a glass of wine with my friends.  All of these singularly simple things suddenly took on new significance.”

Among many cancer survivors, there is a general belief that having experienced cancer provides them with what is often called the “Gift of Gratitude.” It’s not something magical or mythical; but the experience seems to strip away the minutia and the trivial things of life giving the survivors laser-like focus on those people and things that really hold meaning.

Following the phone call from my doctor was, I believe, the precise moment I received the “Gift of Gratitude” and when my life began changing. I was lucky, I beat my cancer and along the way developed an entirely different perspective on what is and what isn’t important in my life.  In my case, as in so many other cases, early detection and great medical care saved my life.  And, for that, I remain eternally grateful.

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.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Pre-Planning Removes Emotion from a Financial Decision

by Dan Applegate
President, The Arlington Memorial Gardens

Did you know that funeral expenses, together with related interment and memorialization services, merchandise and cemetery property, are an important financial transaction for consumers? In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has estimated that a funeral is the third largest single expenditure many consumers will ever make, ranked behind only the purchase of a home and a car.

However, this transaction of such enormous proportions is frequently made under duress, in the midst of an illness or even a death. The emotions that accompany the pending loss or the actual loss of a loved one limit the ability of the person making arrangement to make careful, informed decisions.

The FTC, which has studied funeral services and funeral transactions for well over 30 years, has found that consumers lack familiarity with the funeral transaction itself: nearly 50 percent of all consumers have never arranged a funeral and another 25 percent have done so only once. Even in the best of times, how good are we at anything if we’ve never had the experience or have just “practiced” once? Throw in the impact of grief and we all can imagine just how easy it is to make bad decisions when we’re planning for a funeral with a sense of urgency.

When making arrangements under duress, consumers are frequently required to give authorization for such things as the removal of the remains of the loved one from the place of death to another location - typically a funeral home, and must also decide on a variety of other matters such as embalming, the purchase of a casket, the use of funeral home facilities, the type of interment (including the selection of an outer burial container), or entombment in a mausoleum, or cremation (where calls for additional decisions regarding the final disposition of the cremated remains – including how and what kind of memorialization is preferred).

If all of this sounds complicated, that’s because it is. In fact, the FTC calls this the consumer’s “disadvantaged bargaining position” based on the following factors: emotional trauma; guilt; dependency and suggestibility; ignorance; and, time constraints. The ability to make considered and well informed decisions can take place, according to the FTC, only when these factors are eliminated. Therefore, consumers are in the most advantageous position to evaluate the purchase of funeral and interment services, merchandise and cemetery property when the purchase is a “pre-need” transaction.

Pre-need purchasing gives consumers the opportunity to shop comparatively and make decisions without the time and emotional pressures associated with purchasing at-need. The FTC has noted numerous other advantages of pre-planning, and our Family Care Advisors would be glad to spend time with you reviewing those advantages and all of the options you have as pre-planners – including the significant cost advantages.

Call our office today at 521-7003 and ask for one of our advisors to openly and intellectually walk you through the process of pre-need planning  rather than planning during the turmoil of an at-need event.

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, 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.