Volunteers place wreaths on graves for 420 veterans in Lyndonville

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 December 2020 at 4:24 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – Earl Schmidt carries a wreath to place on the grave of a veteran in Lynhaven Cemetery in Lyndonville this morning.

Schmidt was among a group of eight volunteers who placed wreaths on 420 graves of veterans at cemeteries in the community. He also retrieved flags from the graves that had been out since near Memorial Day.

This is the second year Lyndonville has participated in Wreaths Across America.

Of the 420 graves, 402 were at Lynhaven Cemetery. There were also 13 at Yates Center Cemetery, 2 at the Robin Hill Estate, and 1 each at the Greenman Road Cemetery, Lott Cemetery on Angling Road and a cemetery on Marshall Road.

John Follman, an Air Force veteran for 27 years, helps to hand out the wreaths at Lynhaven.

“This is another way to honor our veterans,” he said. “You can’t do enough.”

Yates Town Clerk Shelly Harling carries wreaths to the veterans’ graves. She helped to research the gravesites for all of the veterans in the town of Yates. Initially that was a project spearheaded by the American Legion to identify all the sites for Memorial Day, so the Legion could place American flags on the gravesites.

Steve Goodrich, the Wreaths Across America location coordinator for Lyndonville, didn’t want a big group of volunteers today due to concerns about spreading Covid-19. Last year about 50 people help to set the wreaths.

He also decided against a ceremony because he doesn’t want to put people in added danger of Covid-19.

He praised Anna Stelianou, who is funding the effort. Last year was the first time Lyndonville was part of Wreaths Across America. Stelianou has provided the funding to the Lyndonville Area Foundation with an endowment to pay for the cost of the wreaths every year long into the future. The wreaths are $15 each with the current cost for all the wreaths about $6,000.

Stelianou is doing it in appreciation for the community’s kindness to her parents, Ary and Konstantina. They emigrated to Lyndonville from Greece after WWI. Stelianou also donated the money for the program in honor of her five brothers who served in WWII and the Korean War.

Stelianou said the community looked after her parents and their children, especially during the lean years of the Great Depression. Farmers in particular made sure the family had enough food to eat.

The Stelianou couple ran a small store on Main Street serving lunches, candy and ice cream. Anna Stelianou said the Lyndonville community welcomed her parents and helped them achieve the American dream.

Jim Wells, a Marine veteran, has his arms full of wreaths.

Eric Harling, center, joined the effort, helping his wife, Shelly Harling, and the other volunteers.

About 2,100 communities, including Medina, are participating in Wreaths Across America this year.