The balsam fir tree in Columbia Falls, Maine reminded Gold Star Mother Cindy Kreuger of her son Mike, who gave the ultimate sacrifice of his life in service to our nation.
“This is a young, tall, straight, perfectly formed tree, just as he was a young man,” explained Kreuger when asked why she chose a particular tree. “He loved the outdoors and he would have loved this.”
Kreuger is one of many Gold Star families who have personally visited the tip land owned by Morrill Worcester, founder of Wreaths Across America, to tag a tree in honor of her loved one.
It can be requested that Wreaths Across America create duplicate dog tags for a service member. Families can visit the tip land in person and select a rugged balsam fir tree upon which they can secure the tags. Then, that balsam fir tree is marked with a red, white and blue ribbon signifying the tree has been “tagged” by that family.
In a ceremony on the tip land, the service member’s information on the dog tag is read out loud over a speaker before the tree is tagged, as seen in this video.
“In all truth, we each die twice,” explains Karen Worcester, Wreaths Across America Executive Director. “Once when our heart beats its last beat and we take our last breath. And we die a second time when our name is spoken out loud one last time, and we are forgotten.”
If a family member is unable to make the trip to Columbia Falls a Wreaths Across America volunteer will be given the honor of selecting a balsam fir tree and will carry out the tagging process, saying the name of the fallen hero. GPS coordinates will also be provided so visitors can return to that tagged tree at any time.
Next month, in celebration of Arbor Day, Wreaths Across America will launch Operation Remembrance Tree in hopes of tagging more balsam fir trees for families.
While the program is free, WAA will accept donations to defray the program costs.