Lockport VFW donates $8,000 to help Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery projects

The support committee is ‘a low-key organization that actually gets a lot done’

The Lockport Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5788 raised the $8,000 to benefit future projects of the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery Support Committee. The VFW raised the money by hosting a Hawaiian Luau Dinner on May 11. VFW Post 5788 Commander Keith Carberry and Auxiliary President Karen Szynkowski presented the donation to ALNC Support Committee Chairman Paul Rossi during the support committee meeting on June 12, 2024.

A Lockport veterans organization donated $8,000 to the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery Support Committee on Wednesday.

Jack Picciolo, service officer for the Lockport Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5788 and a longtime member of the support committee, said the VFW raised the money by hosting a Hawaiian luau dinner May 11.

“My post just wanted to do something for the support committee, so we went with it,” Picciolo said.

Among those “who did the legwork” for the event were members of the Lockport VFW’s auxiliary and “our committee who does all the fish fries,” he said.

The fundraiser included a Hawaiian-themed dinner and entertainment by the Aloha Chicago Hula Dancers and Polynesian Fire Dancers, Picciolo said.

The reason for the fundraiser actually was twofold, Picciolo said. The VFW wanted to raise funds for the support committee’s future projects, but it also wanted to provide attendees with information about Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood and the services the national cemetery offers to veterans and their families, he said.

VFW Post 5788 Cmdr. Keith Carberry and auxiliary President Karen Szynkowski presented the donation to ALNC Support Committee Chairman Paul Rossi during the support committee meeting, Picciolo said.

A group of military veterans and civilians interested in converting part of the former Joliet Arsenal into a national cemetery for veterans formed the support committee April 17, 1995, and it was incorporated as a nonprofit in 1998, according to the support committee’s website.

“And we’re always looking for more people to get involved,” Picciolo said.

The Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery was dedicated as the 117th national cemetery Oct. 3, 1999, within the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

Headstones of members of the armed forces line the grounds at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood on Saturday, July 29.

Since that time, the support committee has sought new ways to “enhance the facility and services provided at the national cemetery,” according to the support committee’s website. The support committee has donated more than $287,180 in items to the cemetery since 1999.

“We’re a low-key organization that actually gets a lot done,” Picciolo said.

The support committee also helped research, found and fund the cemetery’s permanent-on-site honor guard to make sure any veteran desiring a burial “with full military honors” would receive one, according to the support committee’s website.

The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Squad is now its own organization.

The ALNC Memorial Squad does a 21-gun salute at the National Cemetery Administration 50th Anniversary ceremony at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood on Saturday, July 29.

The Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery support committee meets at 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month at American Legion Post 1080, 2625 W. Ingalls Ave. in Joliet.

For information and a list of the support committee’s past projects, visit alncemeterysupport.org.