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Volunteers honor veterans at Saluting Branches event

The Leavenworth Times - 9/21/2018

Sept. 20--Several local and Kansas City area tree care professionals and arborists honored military veterans Wednesday at the Leavenworth National Cemetery in a way they know best.

They cut down and trimmed trees.

Approximately 50 volunteers from about four businesses spent the day at the national cemetery cutting dead branches and removing distressed trees as part of the annual Saluting Branches initiative.

The program aims to honor military veterans and beautify national cemeteries across the nation on a single day.

There are 136 national cemeteries in which military veterans are interred as well as 111 federally funded state and tribal cemeteries under the auspices of the National Cemetery Association of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

This year, work was performed across the country at 54 cemeteries.

Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves said volunteers have donated more than $4 million in work services over the last four years.

Reeves made the trip to Leavenworth from Washington, D.C., Wednesday to spend the day at the national cemetery. He even helped out with the work.

"The most important thing here today are these guys," Reeves said, pointing to a crew of workers cutting down a large silver maple tree at the cemetery.

"This is a great opportunity to show love for the veterans," said Dan Williams, assistant director of the Leavenworth National Cemetery. "This is a tribute to the veterans who have served."

Mark Babcock, gardener at the national cemetery, said the ground crew staff at the cemetery is small.

"Without these guys' help, we couldn't get this much work done," he said.


(c)2018 Leavenworth Times, Kan.

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