By Stephen J. Kotz
Last November, Bethany Deyermond fished out a green light bulb that she had placed in a lamp outside her home on Ackerly Street the year before as part of Greenlight a Vet, a national initiative to remember American servicemen and women overseas, on Veterans Day in 2015.
This year, after she retrieved the bulb to display it on Veterans Day once again, she figured its warm, green glow would add a little Christmas cheer to the neighborhood.
But when she learned that Specialist Max Yardley, who is serving in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and is the son of Ken and Mimi Yardley, had been deployed to Iraq, she decided to leave the light in place and try to encourage other local families to do the same thing.
“There will be a green light shining in honor of Sag Harbor Army SPC Max Yardley until he returns safe and sound from Iraq. Hope lots of you join us. I know firsthand how much your support means to a deployed soldier and his or her family!” wrote Ms. Deyermond on her Facebook page on January 17.
More than 200 “likes” and 56 shares later, it would appear her message is having its intended effect.
“I just thought it would a nice thing to do,” said Ms. Deyermond this week, who added she was excited to see “there’s been a big surge” with the green lights appearing on front porches around the village.
Ms. Deyermond started a similar trend in 2012 when she left an illuminated candle in a second-floor window while her son-in-law, Sergeant First Class Russell Littel, a member of the Texas National Guard, who is married to her daughter Kate, was deployed to Afghanistan.
“Last year, people were putting green lights out to honor veterans and Bethany restarted it,” said Mimi Yardley, Max’s mother. “It’s very humbling.” She said she has noticed the lights on Noyac Road, Brandywine Drive, and near the school.
“There are other military families in Sag Harbor, some active, some inactive, and I’m sure they appreciate it as well,” she said.
Ms. Yardley said her son was home for Christmas until December 28 before shipping off to Baghdad for a nine-month deployment, helping train Iraqi troops as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.
“The children of Sag Harbor feel the support,” she said, “and I’m so appreciative and grateful to be living in such a supportive community.”
Ms. Deyermond, a member of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, said that group always sends Christmas gifts to Sag Harborites in the armed forces — with enough to go around for the other members of their units.
Among those currently serving are Bonnie O’Brien, Cheryl Scarlato, Darren Babula, David McMahon, Rojdrefa Patterson, Clint Kelley, Brook Hartnett and Jonathan Severance.
She said she learned through Joanne Lyles that Spc. Yardley had been deployed. “Once I knew he was gone, I thought, my goodness, I’m going to keep the light lit and do it in honor of Max until he gets back,” she said.
Others, both locally and elsewhere, have joined in.
“Off to buy a green light!”—responded Darlene Semlear shortly after Ms. Deyermond’s post appeared.
“I also was raised in Sag Harbor. The Boyle family adores the Yardley family. We will get the green bulb and light here in Berne, N.Y. for Max. Thank you for your service Max, safe return. Prayers daily for the entire Yardley family” — wrote Angela Fisher.
“As another Sag Harbor-born and raised in the Boyle family and married into the Horn family, I will get a green light for my front porch and light up in Riverhead for Max and all others from Riverhead that are deployed. Thank you to Max and his family for his service” — added Diana Horn.
Others posted photos of the lights at their homes:
“We will keep this light on until Max comes home safe. Much love from the Mac family” — wrote Tom Mac, whose post was accompanied by a green light glowing from the middle of a snow-covered shrub.
“Mine’s Out” — chimed in Sandi Kruel, who included a photo of the green light on her porch.
“Bethany Deyermond has the right idea. Our green light is on order. Max Yardley, Sag Harbor is beyond proud of you for your service to the USA. Look for the little green glow above Sag Harbor on Google Maps” — posted Terri Spano Federico.
She took the extra step of going to greenlightavet.com, which allows people to post their location so their green light will appear on a map of the United States.
Ms. Yardley said late last week she was looking forward to letting her son know about the initiative, but that Wi-Fi, a small miracle in itself for military families who once had to wait for letters or telegrams, has been spotty since he went to Iraq.
When asked how often she hears from her son, she replied, “From a mom’s perspective, not often enough.”