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Hundreds turn up in Pine Plains with wreaths in hand to honor vets

PINE PLAINS — Seeking to recognize heroes past and present and teach the value of freedom to the next generation, area residents gathered in solidarity to salute the experiences and sacrifices of this nation's soldiers through the annual Wreaths Across America ceremony held on Saturday, Dec. 18, at Evergreen Cemetery in Pine Plains.

As an emblem of the community’s steadfast support for its veterans, American Legion Post 426 Cmdr. Marie Stewart announced at the ceremony that they were able to secure more than 400 wreaths for this year’s program — a staggering increase from the 93 wreaths secured last year.

Despite the cold drizzle, residents headed over to the cemetery for the ceremony at noon, showing their respect for their fallen heroes. Each fixed with a bright red ribbon, deep green wreaths lay in cardboard boxes waiting to be collected and laid down on the gravestones of local soldiers.

Welcoming everyone to the ceremony, Stewart thanked residents for joining the community “as we celebrate the mission to remember the fallen, honor those that serve along with their families and teach the next generation the value of freedom.”

The community honored Stewart’s request for a moment of silence to remember their fallen comrades, prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action and to honor those who have served and are presently serving in the country’s Armed Services.

Following the Pledge of Allegiance, residents from around the region stood solemnly in the bone-chilling rain in remembrance of those veterans now gone.

After a closing prayer by
American Legion Post 426  Chaplain George Keeler, Stewart announced their goal for next year is to cover all the veterans’ graves in Evergreen Cemetery with wreaths. That totals 550 graves — and 550 wreaths.

The 2022 Wreaths Across America ceremony is already scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 17. Organizers are hopeful participation will be even greater.

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