If you happen to travel down Ackerly Street this week, be sure to take notice of the candle in the upstairs window at number 12.
That’s the home of Ed and Bethany Deyermond. Bethany turned the candle on last Wednesday when she and Ed returned home from Texas after seeing their son-in-law, Sergeant First Class Russell Littel, off to his deployment in Afghanistan. And lit it will stay until Russ, a member of the Texas National Guard, returns from his service overseas.
The tradition dates back to the Civil War, and we have to say, we are moved by Bethany’s desire to honor her son-in-law as he goes off to this decidedly 21st century conflict. It’s something, she notes, that should have been done for Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter when he was deployed as a Marine to Iraq. Instead, many people didn’t even know that Haerter, a Sag Harbor native, had gone to Iraq until it was too late and he came home in a flag-draped casket.
And while here on the East End, we are very good at remembering our fallen heroes and supporting causes that benefit soldiers coming home from battle – an event not to be missed this weekend is the Jordan Haerter Fishing Tournament – we are not really a military town. There are no nearby bases and comparatively few young men and women from the area have gone to war in recent years relative to the population. We don’t really understand what it means for families when a loved one goes off to war – the importance of support groups, friends who have been there, someone to help navigate the system, or lend a hand when a spouse at home suddenly needs a babysitter due to a late night at the office.
Which is why we like what Bethany’s doing. She’s reminding us that it does take a village to stay connected to its military personnel and in the process, showing us how one simple act like a candle in the window can raise the spirits of a soldier and his family. And even though her daughter, Kate, and her young granddaughter, Bethany, live far from here, we can all join her in sharing our positive thoughts and good wishes for Russell.
So we urge everyone in Sag Harbor to take up Bethany’s mantle, and put a light in the window for Russell and for all the Sag Harbor sons and daughters serving overseas. Not only will it add some cheerful light to the village as we move toward the long nights of winter, but it will also brighten the spirits of a family that has a great deal to cope with in the months ahead.
And let’s keep those home fires burning until Russell — and all our other servicemen and women — come home.