Baumgarten said laying a wreath is an intimate reminder that each grave represents someone who was a living, breathing person who answered his or her country’s call.
Last year, there were not enough wreaths to go around at the Plattsburgh cemetery. And Baumgarten fears there will not be enough this year either. She hopes local businesses will step up and make donations to what she said is a worthy cause.
Local chapters of the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion have made contributions, but unless more people donate, some graves will go unadorned, she said.
Any surplus wreaths purchased will carry over to next year.
MORE THAN MILES
Baumgarten said that in a region as rich in military history as the North Country, there is no reason for a veteran’s service to go uncelebrated. She estimated that 50 volunteers showed up last year and hopes there will be even more this time.
Last year, each volunteer was able to lay two or three wreaths. They sang “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and she said it was touching to hear.
“I am not the only one who has had a loved one away at Christmastime, and these people won’t ever be back with their families,” she said. “It’s more than miles that keep them apart.”
Baumgarten will lay a wreath of her own beside a brick in Veterans Memorial Park on the U.S. Oval devoted to her father, Thomas Dietrich, who served in WWII.
“When you walk around, look at the graves and say their names,” she said. “They are not invisible people — they are individuals.”
TO BUY A WREATH
The deadline is Monday, Nov. 26, to purchase a wreath for this year's Wreaths Across America event planned for Plattsburgh.
To order, go to wreathsacrossamerica.org and select the Old Post Cemetery as donation site, using the code NYOPCP and Sponsor Group code NYAMRA01.