Special Earth Day ceremony will honor fallen EOD warriors
Columbia Falls —
The public is invited to attend a Veterans Remembrance Tree dedication on Earth Day at Wreaths Across America's balsam tip land. There, on Saturday, April 22, a live tree will be tagged as a living memorial to each of 326 fallen Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians who were killed in action while carrying out an EOD mission.
Wreaths Across America, whose mission is to Remember, Honor and Teach about the service and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans, will be dedicating an entire section of tip land to the EOD Warrior Foundation.
A dog tag will be placed on individual trees in memory of each of the 326 fallen EOD warriors, and every third year the branches of these trees will be tipped to make the remembrance wreaths that are placed on the headstones of fallen veterans across the country as part of National Wreaths Across America Day.
"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 veterans and families this year and for many years to come,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America.
The dedication ceremony is free to attend and open to the public. Those who wish to attend are invited to meet at Wreaths Across America headquarters, 4 Point St., Columbia Falls, at 8 a.m., where group transportation will be provided. At 9 a.m., attendees will travel to the tip land chapel for coffee, doughnuts, and a brief service by the chaplain. The tree dedication and ceremony will begin at 10 a.m., and lunch will follow the ceremony.
Any military family can have a tree tagged as a memorial to a loved one free of charge. When trees are dedicated to a fallen military member, a dog tag with the individual's name and a red, white and blue ribbon is placed on the tree. Families are allowed to walk the grounds and choose the tree to become the memorial.
Holding the EOD dedication on Earth Day is fitting, in that the tip land trees are never cut down; rather, they are trimmed every few years, allowing the trees, and the legacy of the fallen warrior they represent, to live on.
“We are grateful for this opportunity to partner with Wreaths Across America,” said Nicole Motsek, executive director of the EOD Warrior Foundation. “This is going to be a beautiful and touching ceremony to honor our 326 fallen EOD Warriors. It is open to the public, and we hope people will join us April 22 to show their support for these deserving warriors and their families.”
EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) technicians are highly trained military members serving in the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force and are responsible for disarming, rendering safe, and disposing of bombs. There are approximately 7,000 active duty and over 20,000 veteran members of our military who perform this job, one of the most dangerous in the military.
The EOD Warrior Foundation helps this elite group by providing financial relief, therapeutic healing retreats, a scholarship program, care of the EOD Memorial Wall at Eglin AFB, Fla., and more. To learn more, visit eodwarriorfoundation.org.