ROCKY HILL, Conn. (WTNH) — Tree crews across the country, are helping make veterans’ homes and cemeteries prettier and safer. For people who are arborists and patriots, Wednesday is the day they show it.
One day every year, crews clean up trees in veterans’ cemeteries and residential campuses for an event called Saluting Branches. It started with one tree company out west.
“The first year, I think they had about a thousand people go out to 20 different sites, which was an amazing effort for a grassroots effort that came out of the ground,” said Matt Bartelme of Bart’s Tree Service, who is the Connecticut site leader. “Now, we’re on our seventh year.”
Now, this happens in Connecticut and 48 other states. In previous years, they helped clean up and prune back trees at the veterans’ cemetery in Middletown.
“Everybody loves to give back, especially the veterans who appreciate the fallen heroes who are buried here, the men and the women who gave it all,” Bartelme said. This is just a tiny little giveback that we can do.”
This year, it is the state veterans complex in Rocky Hill. About 15 tree companies are taking down dead and dying trees and tidying up the remaining ones.
Hiring an arborist to take down even one tree can cost thousands of dollars. All those crews working all day would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. That is if they were getting paid in money. Instead, they are opting for a different reward.
“We all get together and help each other out. Love it. It’s a cause that’s just amazing to give back,” Bartelme explained. “I know I’m a very patriotic guy, so we just love it and look forward to this every year.”
This year they get to work right outside some veterans’ windows. Their service is seen up close by those who did the real service.