Hundreds lay wreaths to keep memories alive

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Fog surrounds the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, where hundreds of volunteers laid wreaths to remember the more than 8,000 veterans in their final resting place. (Photos by Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter)

Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

Nobody who came to lay wreaths at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley Saturday morning needed any reminder, but the fog that wrapped itself around the hills in all four directions made sure the focus was on nothing more than the final resting place for the more than 8,000 veterans in the cemetery.

A crowd of several hundred people turned out Saturday to continue the 30-year tradition of placing a wreath at every gravesite as part of the nationwide Wreaths Across America event to honor veterans who have died. Some of the participants were family members who came to lay a wreath on the grave of loved ones, while others helped lay wreaths for perfect strangers as a way of giving thanks and remembrance.

The event is hosted at the Veterans Cemetery every year by the Nevada Veterans Coalition. Money for the wreaths is raised through donations, and for the seventh consecutive year, they had enough to place a wreath for each of the 8,000-plus veterans in the cemetery.

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Several hundred people turned out to place wreaths Saturday. While the event wasn’t as large as it was in years past, Nevada Veterans Coalition president Rick Rose said he was thrilled with the turnout, after last year’s event was closed to the public because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s not as much as we did have, but this was a great turnout,” Rose said. “I’m really proud of Fernley and the surrounding areas, because we get people coming out from everywhere.”

Nevada Veterans Coalition President Rick Rose was Master of Ceremonies for the event.

Rose, who usually plays taps for the Veterans Coalition events at the cemetery, served as the master of ceremonies for Saturday’s event.

“To be able to see, especially the young kids coming out, and be able to learn what we’re doing, what we’re trying to teach, it does my heart really well,” Rose said. “I’m just swelled with pride to see everybody come out.”

One of the people who came to honor a loved one was JoAnne Baumgart of Fallon, who laid a wreath on the grave of her husband Edward Baumgart, who served as an Air Force airman basic. He learned diesel mechanics in the Air Force and was a diesel mechanic and a welder all of his life, working for mining companies in Nevada. He died in 2014.

He and JoAnne were married for almost 39 years and moved to Fallon in 1987.

“He was great, always giving people anything he could to help them, and that’s what I remember the most about him,” JoAnne Baumgart said. “If somebody needed some help, he was there to help.”

JoAnne said she comes to the cemetery to honor Edward several times a year, on his birthday and on special holidays.

“He was kind of a cowboy at heart, so we adopted some mustangs and started horses and cattle from there,” she said.

JoAnne Baumgart reflects after placing a wreath on the grave of her husband Edward.

Deanna Henderson and her daughter, Sharon Revels, both also of Fallon, were there to honor Deanna’s husband and Sharon’s father, John Henderson, who served as a U.S. Navy aviation ordnanceman.

Deanna was 15 years old in 1957 when she met John at a picnic on the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base in California. They were married in 1960 when John was in the Reserves, and had they had 12 children. They lived in California and Wisconsin before moving to Nevada. John Henderson worked for General Motors until his retirement.

Revers and Henderson said it means a lot to them to see people come to place wreaths on the graves of veterans who don’t have family members in the area.

“Half these people, or most of them probably don’t have people visiting, because they all live out of state and everything, but they remember everybody and don’t forget them at Christmas,” Revels said.

“We don’t forget them at any time,” Henderson said.

Sharon Revels trims the grass around her father John Henderson’s headstone while her mother Deanna Henderson looks on.

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