Wreaths needed for veterans' headstones at Saratoga National Cemetery | WNYT.com

Wreaths needed for veterans' headstones at Saratoga National Cemetery

Mark Mulholland
Updated: November 12, 2020 06:52 PM
Created: November 12, 2020 06:11 PM

SARATOGA - It's a tradition around here, and around the country.

On the Saturday before Christmas, volunteers fan out across the vast Saratoga National Cemetery and place wreaths at each of the headstones.

The arrangements come from Wreaths Across America, who asks for sponsors to spend $15 apiece before the end of the month.

Then on December 19, 2,000 people show up to place them as green and red holiday recognition for heroes buried here.  

It usually involves a ceremony before the small army of volunteers spreads out across the cemetery, wreaths in hand.

However, remembering is more complicated this year.

Organizers are hopeful coronavirus won't keep people from sponsoring a wreath or two.

The wreath ceremony won't be open to the public this year, but it will be live-streamed on Saratoga National Cemetery's Facebook page.

They're staggering the volunteers into two-hour blocks this year.

People sign up for their time and their section of the cemetery on the website.

"We say no veteran ever dies, and we do that by memorializing them and paying tribute to their sacrifice," said Scott Lamb, cemetery director at Solomon Saratoga National.

This is the 15th year Anita Martin has served as Wreaths Across America's volunteer site director at Saratoga National, but the first year she's organized the effort during a pandemic. "We aren't sure day-to-day what the requirements will be of us, but we want to get as many sponsors to send us a wreath, so we can place one at every grave," said Martin.

That means 13,100 are needed to meet the always growing demand.

"I don't think any veteran shouldn't get a wreath," said Lamb.

Martin says for three years running, they've gotten enough for every grave.

They're hoping the pandemic doesn't change that.

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