As Gold Star and Blue Star families visited the land where the balsam fir trees are harvested each year for the Wreaths Across America (WAA) wreaths that are placed on veteran’s graves, they found a sense of peace and tranquility there. These trees are “tipped” (pruned) every three years.
“We created the Veteran Remembrance Tree Program because we wanted to find a way to recognize the fallen soldiers and their families in a more permanent way,” explains Karen Worcester, Executive Director of Wreaths Across America. “This endless forest is a truly visual representation of our unwavering commitment to our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach and to recognize our fallen soldiers and families this year and for many years to come.”
Due to the overwhelming support of this program, WAA has purchased its own dog-tag machine, allowing the families of the veteran the ability to customize their message for the tag. The family is taken out to the balsam tip land to find a tree that will become their living memorial to their loved one. The dog-tag is then placed on the trunk of an evergreen tree of their choosing. A red marker is placed on the tree to show that it has been chosen as a memorial.
These “living legacy” trees that will ensure that no veteran is ever forgotten. WAA has created other sections, such as the Old Guard Memorial Grove in honor of Arlington National Cemetery’s honor guard, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and most recently, the Medal of Honor Remembrance Park. The first recipient of the Medal of Honor (MOH) from the Vietnam conflict, COL (ret) Roger Donlon was present to “tag” his remembrance tree, along with other MOH family members. We arranged to have a tree tagged for MSgt William Crawford, the only MOH buried at the US Air Force Academy Cemetery.