The Fort Bragg Environmental Division and the Fort Bragg Arbor Board held its annual Arbor Day ceremony, Friday.

Each year in North Carolina, Arbor Day is celebrated on the first Friday after the 15th of March and is observed on the installation with the planting of a native tree.

This year Arbor Day was celebrated at the monuments area of the Main Post Parade Field.

Fort Bragg Garrison Commander, Col. Brett T. Funck, signed the Arbor Day Proclamation declaring Friday as Fort Bragg Arbor Day.

The Arbor Day Proclamation urges all citizens to celebrate Arbor Day and to support efforts to protect our trees and woodlands. The proclamation further encourages individuals to plant and care for trees to gladden the heart and promote the well-being of this and future generations.

The monuments area was selected as the site for Arbor Day by the Fort Bragg Arbor Board. This place was nominated for a second year due to its importance as an installation memorial.

Arbor Day 2016 witnessed the planting of an eastern red cedar as the first tree replacing the wax myrtles currently found at the site. This year, two additional red cedars were planted to commemorate the occasion.

Arbor board member and installation architect John Rose opened the ceremony by telling the story of a brave Soldier who fought in World War I with the U. S. 69th Regiment, better known as the Fighting 69th.

This Soldier was the author Joyce Kilmer, who published the book “Trees and Other Poems” in 1914, before the war.

“I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree ... ,” Rose continued by saying, “trees have a role we need to respect more ... we should be thinking, what do trees need to assist in giving us life? It’s time to work for trees and cultivate their future so we can all live and thrive in harmony. Not just in the Amazon, or in the Northwest forest, or impoverished Haiti, but also here on Fort Bragg.”

Monica Stephenson, Director of Public Works, read the official Arbor Day Proclamation and remarked on the importance of trees.

“Trees are fundamental to our lives. They provide food, they provide shelter to us and our future food,” said Stephenson. “They also improve our quality of life: from the memories we have of swinging from a tree or climbing trees to carving the ‘I Love You’ in a tree. Today we are planting two cedars. Cedars have had many uses over the centuries, such as for making furniture. They have also marked boundaries as post markers in the past, and as trees to line our neighbors fences. Cedars are also used for aromatherapy as well.”

Fort Bragg received its 12th consecutive Tree City USA award for demonstrating a commitment to caring for and managing public trees. Fort Bragg is one of 87 cities in North Carolina to receive this distinguished award.

North Carolina Forest Service representatives Craig Gottfried and Brandon Smith presented the North Carolina 2016 Tree City USA award to the Director of Public Works. Gottfried noted Fort Bragg’s accomplishments for the Tree City USA award. A city, or in this case an installation, must achieve four requirements to be eligible — have an active Arbor Board, maintain a tree-care ordinance, have an urban forestry program, and each year they must have an Arbor Day observance. Fort Bragg prides itself in meeting these standards for eligibility.

The coveted Fort Bragg Arbor Board Coin was presented to the participants in the ceremony. John Rose presented coins to Deputy Garrison Commander Justin Mitchell and Stephenson on behalf of the Arbor Board.

In turn, Stephenson presented coins to two volunteers from Pope Army Air Field, 43rd Air Mobility Operations Group aviation mechanics Staff Sgt. Zane Abreo, and Senior Airman Austin Milliman.

Stephenson was then joined by Justin Mitchell, Abreo and Milliman. Participants then performed the ceremonial tree planting of the red cedars.

The Fort Bragg Arbor Day Ceremony and the Tree City USA Award are important aspects of work performed by committed installation personnel; one that positively serves the community now and for future generations. The Arbor Board hopes its commitment to preserving natural resources will enhance preserving the future of Fort Bragg.

For more information about Arbor Day, visit the Arbor Day Foundation at www.arborday.org.