MARION — Soon, the Marion National Cemetery will be illuminated. Thousands of lights will be placed next to each veteran’s grave. It's something a group of local Hoosiers does every year to honor our fallen men and women.
“She started this 10 years ago. She passed in 2020,” said Tom Luzadder.
Luzadder’s wife, Kathy, was the one who came up with the idea of placing solar lights next to veterans’ graves at the Marion National Cemetery.
“My dad was in the military,” said Luzadder. “Her dad was in the military. Both my sons were in the military. It means a lot to us.”
The solar lights aim to replicate the eternal flame on President Kennedy’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery.
“These are for the guys that stood for their flag at one time and can’t stand anymore,” Luzadder said. “But the solar light will show them and they’ll be able to stand up forever.”
It's unique to Indiana because of Kathy and other members of the Let My Light Shine organization, according to Luzadder. "We are the only cemetery in the entire United States who has been granted permission to place the solar lights out onto the graves."
Their purpose is simple.
“To honor our veterans,” said Roger Anderson, president of Let My Light Shine. “I’m a veteran myself. Vietnam veteran. But we do this for all the veterans here.”
They recognize who these people were and why they’re here at this national cemetery.
“I think it’s just something they feel from the heart,” Anderson said. “That somebody else besides their family cares about that individual to let their light shine and what they stood for it in the past.”
“We started with 400 lights 10 years ago. And we are up to about 13,000 now,” Luzadder said.
Although Kathy would not live to see her goal become a reality of every grave being illuminated this year, her husband says the effort will live on.
“Somebody asked me, 'What do you do after you fulfilled that 13,000?' Well, every year they put over 300 people in this graveyard,” he said.
This Saturday, Oct. 23 at 9 a.m., volunteers and others from all across the state will help place the 13,000 lights at all the gravesites, leaving them up through Veteran’s Day.
Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to come out and help to honor our veterans and assist with the placing of the solar lights.