Your Community. Your Newspaper.

Photos by Kathryn Ross

American Legion 808 in Belmont conducted a brief honor ceremony prior to placing wreaths as part of Belmont’s first Wreaths Across America event.


Volunteers throughout the region turned out Saturday to place green tokens of grace and honor at the graves of veterans during Wreaths Across America Day.

In Belmont, the day turned out better than expected for organizers. Suzie Thomas, who coordinated Belmont’s first Wreaths Across America event after attending Allegany County’s first event in Cuba last year, was pleased with the results when scores of volunteers turned out.

“It was a great day. The weather was better than we expected. It was a beautiful day,” she said.

And so agreed both Dominic and Donna DiGirolamo, who both said, “It’s a beautiful day for this,” as they watched a brief ceremony in Forrest Hills Cemetery where the wreath-laying began.

The ceremony was conducted by members of the American Legion 808 of Belmont and the American Legion Family organization. Among the speakers were commandant Scott Feness and Meredith Chilson of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The DAR brought the event to Cuba in 2021.

Billy Edwards carries wreaths Saturday as part of Belmont’s Wreaths Across America event.

A resident of Belmont, Chilson said she was happy to be part of the event in Belmont and hopes that other communities across the county will take up the standard.

“We had the first event in Cuba last year and this year we had three communities taking part.” Whitesville was the third community.

Feness told those gathered, “This is the kind of thing that can happen when the community comes together.”

Through fundraisers over several months, Belmont raised more than $7,500 to sponsor 504 wreaths.

The ceremony included an American Legion color guard, which placed four wreaths for the branches of the military and a bugler who played taps. The volunteers were then directed on how to place the wreaths, bows up and to identify the veteran in the site by announcing his/her name and offering a salute and brief moment of silence.

A few over 35 people showed up at Forrest Hills where the event got underway. both grandfather and grandmother aged and teenagers gathered wreaths under their arms and trekked across the snowy, hilly lawn.

Across town, about 20 people gathered in Sacred Heart Cemetery to do the same for veterans buried there.

A total of 504 wreaths were placed on veterans’ graves in Belmont proper and at two cemeteries on the south side of the town of Amity. Wreaths were placed in over 23,000 domestic cemeteries and military cemeteries across the nation and abroad from the Wreaths Across America project.

Thomas said it took Belmont’s 55 volunteers less than an hour to complete the wreath laying. Afterwards many of them showed up at the Legion for much welcomed hot chocolate and cookies and camaraderie.

Individuals may still support the Belmont Wreaths Across America group as well as those in Cuba and Whitesville. Starting now, through Jan. 15, any wreath sponsored ($15) through a sponsorship group will be matched. Go online at to sponsor a wreath or go to one of the organizers of the local events Mary Lindquist in Cuba, Jan Talbett at (607) 356-3214 in Whitesville or Thomas at

In Olean, more than 100 pine wreaths were placed at veterans’ graves in the Mount View Cemetery Veterans Field of Honor.

In McKean County, Pa., in Bradord, Smethport and the Kane and Mount Jewett areas, hundreds of wreaths were placed at veterans graves as well.