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Sat., Aug. 29
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Local communities prepare cemeteries for Memorial Day


The weeds were pulled, the grass was trimmed, the headstones were cleaned. All was in order at Pierce Cemetery, which stands near several training sites on Fort Drum.

The private cemetery was taken over in the post’s expansion of the 1940s, in a process that wiped out several communities. Over the years, it had come to host veterans from the Civil War to the Vietnam War.

Taking advantage of a $75,000 Army Center of Excellence grant, the post has gone to work on fixing up the site, which had shown some signs of aging and the weather.

Volunteers from the post Tuesday morning set in new signage, placed new markers, weeded and cleaned off moss from headstones at the cemetery.

“We’re finally making this right,” said Heather C. Wagner, an environmental educator from Fort Drum Public Works.

Standing by the headstone of Frederick G. and Dora Pierce, Jon E. Fisher and Michael J. Hanley looked over a freshly placed veterans marker, which they and other volunteers had locked in with cement. The two, who now work on the post as civilians, previously had served in the Army.

“Hopefully when it’s my turn, people look out for me,” Mr. Fisher said.

Though the site is closed off for much of the year unless permission is granted, it will be open to the public for the holiday weekend.

With Memorial Day only days away, several community groups have been doing some last-minute upkeep of their local cemeteries. A small sample of those efforts includes:

n At the Muskalonge Cemetery, off Evans Road in the town of Hounsfield, a small work party is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday to complete the final touches of beautification work at the cemetery. Beverly K. Sterling-Affinati, who runs the Friends of Muskalonge Cemetery group, said the cemetery holds 30 veterans, including several who served in the Revolutionary War, along with several who fought in the War of 1812. A ceremony will be held at the cemetery from 9 to 9:30 a.m. Monday. Updates about work at the site can be found at

n At the Adams State Road Cemetery, also known as Honeyville Cemetery, on Route 177 in Adams Center, volunteers were putting the finishing touches on memorial gardens, using plants donated by local businesses. Flags also would be placed at the site, along with a new stone memorial to veterans.

n The road to recovery has been long, but signs of improvement are evident at the Union-Woodlawn Cemetery, off Lake Street, Sandy Creek. James R. Allen, president of the Union-Woodlawn Cemetery Association, said the organization has found a lot of financial support through fundraisers. The cemetery had a resurgence last year as residents and volunteers from groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Lacona prepared the cemetery for Memorial Day. The site will hold a fundraiser at 11 a.m. Saturday at the village park, Harwood Drive.

n Work is ongoing at St. Mary’s Cemetery, on Route 812 near Ogdensburg. Scott E. Boyer, business manager at St. Mary’s Cathedral parish, said grass and weeds near headstones were cleared in time for the holiday. Work will continue after the holiday to restore some of the foundations for the cemetery’s headstones. Mr. Boyer said the church’s work was a way “to respect those that walked the land before us.”

n At Calvary Cemetery, Massena, cemetery association secretary Susan M. Farnsworth said crews have been mowing and weeding, and veterans’ groups have been putting up flowers and flags. She said many families who visit the cemetery once a year use the holiday to see their relatives.

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