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Warrior Tree honors Marines

EDWARDSVILLE, Pa. -- In early August, Art Webb and Megan Williams were planting a Christmas tree.

It was not a case of bad timing. The Douglas fir, explained Karen Declet, was an extension of a project she started in her living room in 2012. She put up star-shaped ornaments on her Christmas tree for her son, a United States Marine, and other Marines. The next year, when he was in Afghanistan, the ornaments were a comforting reminder of her child.

"It was my way of having him home for Christmas," Declet said. She calls it a "warrior tree."

After hearing from Marines that they appreciated the gesture and being inspired by a neighbor, Declet, along with Rachel Hulsizer of Larksville and Diane Cowman, who both have sons in the Marine Corps, organized a public display.
As Declet of Edwardsville put it, she realized "Momma needs a bigger tree."

With help from the borough, businesses and donations of about $500, the group organized a tree planting Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park in Edwardsville.

Webb and Williams, who work for Webb's landscaping company, will take care of the tree.

The group plans to decorate the tribute to the military in December with red, white and blue lights and is looking for donations to fund wooden ornaments in the shape of stars. A yellow ribbon will adorn the top, and Declet said local recruiters have promised to offer candidates to help decorate. The organizers plan to hold a tree-lighting ceremony the first Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Mary Harkenreader's daughter, Private First Class Candice Hartman was at boot camp last Christmas, so the family celebrated twice, once without Candice, and again when she had eight days of leave.

Harkenreader, of Wilkes-Barre Township, was at Saturday's ceremony. Her daughter is at occupational speciality school in Texas.

The tree, she said, "will be somewhere to go when my kid's not home for Christmas."

bwellock@citizensvoice.com

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