2019 Veterans Day MG Mennes.jpgMaj. Gen. Brian Mennes, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, addresses audience members Nov. 7 in Memorial Park at Fort Drum, N.Y., during a ceremony in honor of Veterans Day. Mennes placed a wreath at the Military Mountaineers Monument and a color guard of flag bearers stood to pay homage to all of the sacrifices that American service members have made for their country. (Photos by Spc. Tiffany Mitchell, 27th Public Affairs Detachment)


Fort Drum, North Country community members honor veterans during wreath-laying ceremony


Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs


2019 Veterans Day color guard.jpgFORT DRUM, N.Y. (Nov. 7, 2019) – Fort Drum and North Country community members gathered with 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers at Memorial Park on Nov. 7 for the annual Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony.

Maj. Gen. Brian J. Mennes, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. David P. Hanson, 2nd Brigade Combat Team senior enlisted adviser, placed a wreath in front of the Military Mountaineers Monument as a sign of respect and appreciation for all of the sacrifices that American service members have made for their country.

Veterans Day is observed annually on Nov. 11. It was originally known as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I on that day in 1918. The legal holiday was amended in 1954 to honor veterans of all wars.

Mennes said that Veterans Day is a time to pause and reflect on the patriotic service of the men and women who have answered the call to serve.

Having just returned from Fort Polk, Louisiana, where 1st Brigade Combat Team Soldiers were training at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Mennes was reminded how important it is for them to hone their craft and maintain the highest levels of readiness.

“What I value is that we can only be good at our craft with the great support from our Families, our communities,” he said.

Some attendees took advantage of the heavy, green wool blankets – U.S. Army-issued, of course – handed out at the ceremony as the first snowfall of the season speckled the monuments and plaques surrounding the park. Mennes thanked audience members for their perseverance.

“I’m humbled by this great community support even on this cold day – I thought we’d be inside for sure – but they said, ‘hey, sir, that’s not how the North Country rolls,’” he said. “Thank you for being here today. It is representative of what you provide us and our Soldiers, the love and attention you give to us and, again, I am humbled by it.”

Among the attendees was retired Col. Mike Plummer, a Vietnam War veteran and first 10th Mountain Division (LI) chief of staff.

“Veterans Day is a very significant time in our country and certainly in the lives of our veterans, and that needs to be honored,” he said. “We’re going to continue to have a need for veterans, so it’s important to have these events so we don’t lose that connection with our veterans.”

Plummer said that it would be difficult for members of an all-volunteer force to serve their country without the respect and gratitude of the people they defend.

“You can honor veterans every day, but Veterans Day is a very visible opportunity for us to do that,” Plummer said.

After he retired from the Army, Plummer became active in the 10th Mountain Division Association and had served as the local chapter president for 26 years. In that time, he established the Adopt-A-Platoon program in 1992, and he continues to oversee today.

“That is important to me because I’m a Vietnam veteran, and I remember what it was like to be spit on when I came back,” he said. “We collectively said that we are never going to let that happen to our Soldiers.”

Plummer said that when Soldiers deployed in support of Hurricane Andrew relief efforts, community members asked what they could do for the troops. The Adopt-A-Platoon program would deliver care packages to show Soldiers that no matter where they were sent, they were appreciated and supported back home.

“Once that got going, people really wanted to be involved, because they don’t have many opportunities to show their appreciation,” Plummer said. “The Adopt-A-Platoon program gives them a way to be a part of that, particularly in the North Country where Fort Drum is so important to the community.”

Plummer said that essentially every unit that has deployed out of Fort Drum has been adopted since the program launched and that the program remains as active as the division it supports.