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War Deaths Personal For Quarry Worker
Courtesy of The ChamplainChannel.COM
June 2, 2004

BARRE, Vermont -- Robert McCallum was deployed with the military in Iraq for a year. When he went back to his old job at Granite Industries of Vermont, his work took on a new, personal meaning.

McCallum polishes and sometimes builds headstones at the Barre company for soldiers who died serving in the war.

"It hits you when you see a young kid come home -- and then you see his stone," he told NewsChannel 5's Anya Huneke.

Granite Industries is no stranger to tragedy. It is perhaps best known as the quarry in Barre that worked on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.; the memorial marking the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon; and the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

It is also the sole supplier of headstones to Arlington National Cemetery.

Granite Industries builds about 22,000 headstones a year. Many headstones are for World War II veterans, who are passing away in record numbers, according to the company.

The company estimates it produces about six to 10 headstones every week for soldiers who die in Iraq.

Jeff Martell, president of the business, said, "There've been quite a few (Iraq casualties) coming through, and unfortunately, some are local -- from Vermont."

"All are young boys, anywhere from 20 to 28," added Linda Beaudin, who also works at Granite Industries.

For McCallum, a day on the job can still stir the emotions, which he said he pours back into his work.

"It touches you," he said. "At the same time, you do a good job for the families."

Posted: 4 June 2004