It was a day of remembrance, recollection and celebration at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library on Wednesday November 1 as nearly 40 people stopped by the library to decorate the Veteran’s Tree, a new community-created exhibit located on the library’s first floor.
Those who showed up brought photos of Veterans in their lives and created ornaments to hang on the tree themselves, each with hand-written sentiments and details about their or a loved one's service. Every person that showed up had a story to share, some brought photos of themselves while others brought photos of loved ones. Altogether, a tree full of memories was created throughout the evening, which will now be on display in the library through Monday, November 27.
Attendee Celeste Kuta brought photos of two relatives with her – her uncle who she learned about through doing genealogy research in the library’s Shackley Room, and her brother who served in the Vietnam War.
“He’s going to be 80 years old this year, but he never really talked much about what he did,” Kuta said, referring to her brother. “I asked him for pictures, […] but what was interesting was he sent more than these. He sent a picture of himself sitting in his bunk, he sent a picture of the area where he worked - he worked on a switchboard, which was communications because he had a computer background. I didn’t expect to see these other pictures, I didn’t even know he had them.”
“It just kind of completed the story,” she continued, describing what it was like seeing these photos for the first time. “He talked a little bit more about it, he never did before.”
For attendee Pam Schneider, it was an opportunity to not only recognize her husband Hank Schneider who served in the Air Force, but many other relatives as well.
“My husband’s a Veteran and as we’re getting older, we’re just trying to support the Veterans who are also getting much older from World War II, Vietnam, […] so that’s why we’re here,” she said. “I have my dad’s, my father-in-law's and my brother’s [photos] so it’s a family affair.”
The Veteran's Tree is organized in partnership with SALUTE, INC., a local nonprofit providing for the financial, physical, and emotional needs of injured military service members, Veterans and their families.
A second Veteran’s Tree decorating event will be held on Sunday, November 12, 2-4 p.m. as a part of the Arlingtones Performance and Veterans Day Reception. If you can’t attend this event but would still like to create an ornament, email firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions and supplies.
Stop by often and view the growing collection of handmade mementos created by local residents and families to honor those that served in our nation's Military and perhaps even add one of our own.