Heroes' Tree branches out at library

Heroes' Tree branches out at library

It may not be Christmas yet, but they're already hanging ornaments on a tree over at Hill's Gerrity Memorial Library.

What's the cause for the early tree decoration? This year the base library, along with many other base libraries around the world, is taking part in the fourth annual Heroes' Tree program, sponsored by the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University in Indiana.

This is a great way for the community to honor the sacrifices of the men and women who serve our country, said Kathy Broniarczyk, director of outreach at the institute.

The tree, along with its ornaments and border of white lights representing fallen heroes, not only honors deceased service members, but also recognizes the efforts and sacrifices of current active duty members and veterans.

The Heroes' Tree program was founded in 2005 by two women, Marlene Lee and Stephanie Pickup, who wanted to have a way to connect stories of sacrifice and heroism with names and faces, Broniarczyk said.

To participate, you "just have to bring in a wallet-sized picture," said Alicia Reinier, a senior library technician at Gerrity Memorial Library.

Participants can pick which ornament they want to attach their picture to, and if they don't have an ornament, a description will suffice, Reinier added.

Beginning in the next few months, MFRI will begin working to digitize each tree so that it can be placed in an online collection called the Virtual Heroes' Tree. The Virtual Heroes' Tree will feature photos and stories from several different communities, all viewable online.

In 2008, MFRI chose Nov. 7-14 as the dates on which the Heroes' Tree would be displayed. This year, the base library has decided to run the program a little longer. The tree, which is already up and awaiting ornaments, will be on display until after Veteran's Day, or Nov. 11.

To participate, head over to the Gerrity Memorial Library, located next to the base theater on 8th Street, with a wallet-sized photo or description of a service member you feel deserves to be honored. The library will provide ornaments for you to use. If you have any questions, call the library at 777-2533.

For more information on the Heroes' Tree program or to view past Heroes' Trees, please visit the T.A.O. Army Kids Publishing Web site at www.taopublishing.com and click on "Our Heroes' Tree Program."

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