29 December 2009

Plant a 'Heroes Tree' in Your Community

A Heroes Tree celebrates deployed soldiers, sailors, and airmen and their families by placing in the heart of a community an evergreen symbol of remembrance. Such a tree could be placed in an office or school lobby, for example. Any "tree" could also take an alternative form, such as a bulletin board or poster display placed in a prominent and public place.

The founders of the "Our Heroes Tree" initiative recommend placing at the top of the tree two U.S. flags and a yellow ribbon, the latter a long-standing symbol of fidelity and remembrance in U.S. military culture. Ornaments naming or picturing individual service members can be placed in the branches of the tree. The founders have also penned a poem that can be used during a dedication ceremony for the tree:
Our Heroes’ Tree has much to say
For families whose loved ones serve in harm’s way.

People of all ages craft my decorations,
Sharing the holidays of our great nation.

Drawing pictures and swapping stories,
They entrust my arms with family glory.

For I hold faces and places and holiday heart songs,
Each with a whisper: “Loving hearts, stay strong.”

My lights are like stars. Silent and white.
Reflecting the honor of ultimate sacrifice.

See my ribbons of yellow, ripples of love,
USA flags, and guardian angel above.

Star wish for military families, brave heroes, too,
Our Heroes’ Tree…Together with you.
While a tree seems ideally suited for the Christmas holiday season, the concept can be adapted as necessary for displays installed around New Year's Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, or other appropriate holidays; or incorporated into unit days or deployment send-off ceremonies.

Heroes Tree pictures and program starter kits can be found at: www.ourheroestree.com

Additionally, here is an Army News Service report regarding how a Fort Benning, Georgia, elementary class dedicated a Heroes Tree to send-off soldiers of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. Plans call for soldiers to "un-trim" the tree upon their return in December 2010.

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