Tree for heroes

Cannon Connections photo: Liliana Castillo Master Sgt. Vaughn Chesters looks over ornaments on the Our Heroes’ Tree at the Cannon library.

Liliana Castillo

Families at Cannon Air Force Base have a chance to publicly honor a veteran or active duty military member at the Cannon Library on the Our Heroes’ Tree.

Military families can make ornaments for active duty, veterans and fallen servicemembers and display them on the community tree at the library.

Cannon Library Director Melissa Haraughty said the library began the program last year.

The national program began in 2004 in public libraries nationwide to honor veterans.

“It gives us a sense of connection with all the deployments and time people aren’t here,” Haraughty said.

On any given day, 25 percent of Cannon personnel is deployed.

“It gives children a chance to say ‘I love you’ publicly,” she said.

On Wednesday, ornament makers gathered at the library to talk about their loved ones at a dedication ceremony.

The tree at the Cannon library will remain on display until after Christmas.

Haraughty said the library hosts several community support programs.

“Anything we can do to support folks is super important as an outlet,” she said.

Haraughty said making an ornament for a deployed mom or dad gives the other a chance to sit and talk about it with children.

She said last year’s tree attracted between 25 and 30 ornaments.

“If we help five people, it’s certainly worth our time,” she said. “We want to help people cope with deployment.”

Military spouse Tracey Armitage participated last year and continued this year.

Last year, she and her children made ornaments for her husband and his father. This year, they’ll be adding an ornament for her grandfather.

She said she uses the library a lot and thought the program was neat.

“It gave me a chance to talk to my children about what their dad and his father have done,” she said. “It was nice to be able to tell them.”

Armitage said this year’s round of ornament creating will hold special meaning for her children because her husband just returned from his first deployment.

“It’s a wonderful program. It’s a great way to show mommies and daddies that they’re proud of them,” she said. “It’s a great way to open communication about things that are sometimes difficult to talk about.”