Press-Republican

Local News

November 12, 2012

Time drags as vets pursue military cemetery

PLATTSBURGH — “I served my country in ‘Nam, and I should be buried in my hometown,” Mike Morse said. 

Morse grew up in Plattsburgh, although he currently lives in Florida. The cemetery he has in mind requires some explanation.

Morse, 63, owns and runs A-Plus Tool Sharpening in Clearwater, Fla. He served 28 perilous months in Vietnam, survived three heart attacks and overcame prostate cancer that left him disabled.

After his death, he wants to be buried in a veterans cemetery here in the North Country, but the closest state burial ground is 130 miles south in Saratoga Springs. 

Despite the North Country’s lack of a state cemetery dedicated to those who served in the military, Morse is hopeful one will be constructed before he needs it.

“I don’t want to be the first one there, but it would still be comforting.”

NOT QUICK, EASY 

The idea of a state-owned veterans cemetery is not only Morse’s idea, nor is he the first to hope for one.

Steve Bowman, Clinton County’s director of veterans affairs, said he has worked for 13 years to move the project forward alongside vets who want to see it established. The effort is targeted on locating land, securing grants and persuading state lawmakers to pass the legislation that would pay for the cemetery. 

He said the proposal has made a lot of progress but is still far from completion.

“It is not quick and easy,” Bowman said.

THREE SITES

Camp Gabriels, a former minimum security prison in the Town of Brighton’s Gabriels hamlet in Franklin County, is under consideration as a possible location. Also under consideration are a parcel in Schuyler Falls and property owned by the Macdonough family on Cumberland Head.

The sites were selected by an advisory committee, comprised of Bowman and representatives of other veterans’ organizations, for their accessibility and their links to military history.

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