FULTON, NY – For the fourth year, the Fulton boys’ lacrosse team paired with the Futlon Veterans Council and Fulton American Legion to place flags on the graves of all buried veterans resting at Mount Adnah and St. Mary’s cemeteries.
Put together along with the cooperation and guidance of the Sugar Funeral Home, Inc. and Sugar & Scanlon Funeral Home, the group has grown to incorporate more volunteers.
This year, the Fulton Fire Department volunteered its time as several firefighters participated to help honor the heroes that have made the ultimate sacrifice.
For the youth, veterans, firemen, all individuals who participated, the consensus was clear: it’s an honor.
“If we had known about this opportunity to help do this all these years, we would have been here sooner,” said Fulton fire chief, Dave Eiffe. “To be able to place these flags for the veterans that have served our community and our country is such an honor.”
A local active duty military member and local veterans alike were appreciative of the community support.
“I think this is great. Seeing this community support makes my job easier. I know my wife and daughter do all the hard work while I’m deployed and it’s good to know that our communities really support our military and veterans,” said Lyle Sharkey, active duty Senior Master Sergeant.
“This really shows the support of our community for those who gave their all,” said Navy veteran, Bill Donnelly. “I think it’s good for the kids, too, when they leave they realize how many people have served our community and our country.”
Fire Cheif Eiffe happened upon an experience that resonated with his 15-year-old son while placing the flags.
“As we were walking, we came across a headstone that read of a 14-year-old Civil War veteran. It really put it into perspective and made me question my son if he could imagine serving in war at this age,” Eiffe said.
Laurie Sugar-Compson of Sugar Funeral Home, Inc. in Fulton said that each year she recognizes the youth of the lacrosse teams developing an appreciation they may not have had before.
“You can see them, reading headstones and talking together. I would say it really does impact them, they gain so much more appreciation being here first hand with this experience,” she said. “And it’s amazing to see how much the cemetery changes, too.”
While at first, some of the young athletes were hesitant to give up their Saturday mornings, according to coach Aaron Koproski, they always leave with an immense appreciation for their community’s past.
“They get to see how much our community has sacrificed to protect the freedoms we have. It’s a truly great way to give back to the community,” he said.
Whether they are participating in the first year, fourth year, or anywhere in between, the local students of the lacrosse team were grateful for the experience.
“Its nice to honor the veterans that served in our local area,” said senior, Nick Walberger during his first year at the event.
“I enjoy doing it, to show how much we appreciate what veterans have done for our community,” said junior, Josh Compson.
“And hopefully it helps families that may not be able to do it themselves,” added junior, Reed Mellen, both in their fourth year participating.
John Young of the Fulton American Legion addressed the group of volunteers, explaining the importance of ensuring the markers are standing straight up and never letting the flag touch the ground.
With that, the group quickly covered the many acres of the Mount Adnah and St. Mary’s cemeteries, giving every veteran a gravestone flag in their honor.