We get to celebrate Veteran’s Day in a special way on my family’s Christmas tree farm in Hancock County. We participate in the Operation Evergreen Program that sends around 300 Christmas trees, complete with handmade ornaments, to troops stationed overseas for the holidays. On the Sunday prior to Veteran’s Day, we invite area veterans to come and select three or four Christmas trees from the farm to cut for this purpose. Local elementary students, high schools students and community groups also visited the farm to present the ornaments they have made to the veterans. This year there were well over 3,000 ornaments brought to the farm. The trees and ornaments then go from our farm to the Ohio Department of Agriculture where they are inspected and shipped off to Iraq, Afghanistan or wherever else U.S. troops are serving.
Each year we have done this, my Grandpa Franklin Deeds has been a part of the ceremony. He served in World War II in the Invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge and, throughout my lifetime, he has demonstrated the epitome of a soldier’s sacrifice in everything he has done. He mostly remains quiet about the horrors of war that he saw in his service to our country, preferring to spend his time working on the farm and helping friends and family with anything asked of him.
With so much sacrifice from so many veterans in this country, it is an honor to play a small part in the Operation Evergreen program that offers just a simple reminder of home for those currently serving. And, on this Veteran’s Day, I want to say thank you Grandpa, and all veterans, for your incredible sacrifice for this wonderful country.