“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now,” — Chinese proverb.

The Fort Bragg Arbor Board, Sustainable Fort Bragg, the Warrior Transition Battalion and the Cumberland County Master Gardeners observed North Carolina Arbor Day on March 15 with a celebration and the planting of three little gem magnolia trees at the Warrior Transition Battalion Tranquility Garden.

Lt. Col. Judson “Jay” Nelson, batallion commander, called the observance of Arbor Day at the Warrior Transition Battalion campus “an honor.” Nelson said he was personally looking forward to watching the growth of the Arbor Day trees and to continuing the work in the Tranquility Garden, which is designed to aid in the rehabilitation of Soldiers recovering from illness and injury.

Col. Jeffrey Sanborn, Fort Bragg Garrison commander said that the celebration of Arbor Day at the Warrior Transition Battalion was especially symbolic.

“Arbor Day is a sign of spring and a symbol of rebirth,”  Sanborn said. “Our wounded warriors come to the Warrior Transition Battalion for a rebirth as well and the garden is going to be a part of that rebirth. You don’t have to spend a lot of time around Fort Bragg to recognize how important trees are to the environment and to the mission here. Their strength and endurance have stood the test of time – strength not unlike that of our wounded warriors, who have also persevered.”

Sanborn read the Arbor Day Proclamation and participated in the ceremonial tree planting with Nelson and five wounded warriors. Sanborn then presented honorary Fort Bragg Arbor Board coins to Nelson, lead garden volunteer Beth Nelson and the Soldiers who planted the trees.

Bill Hellmuth of the North Carolina Forest Service also awarded Fort Bragg its eighth Tree City USA recognition at the Arbor Day celebration.

Fort Bragg is one of 72 cities in North Carolina and one of 3,400 cities in the United States to receive the honor.

Tree City USA recognition is bestowed upon municipalities that demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable land use through the achievement of four standards: an Arbor Board, a tree-care ordinance, a community forestry program and an official Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

“For a forestry program to be effective, it takes the support and commitment of the entire community,” Hellmuth said. “At Fort Bragg, the community forestry program thrives because of the combined dedication of the Arbor Board, Fort Bragg Soldiers, civilians and the residents who take pride in improving the quality of life at Fort Bragg.”

Beth Nelson concluded the celebration by discussing the community aspects of Arbor Day at the WTB. She acknowledged the contributions of battalion leadership, the wounded warriors, the installation organizations and the community agencies that lend their hours and efforts to create a safe, tranquil haven for Soldiers in need. “The connections we have built between each other have enhanced this place,” she said. “Our garden is better for it, and I think that we’ll look back on this project and years from now, we’ll remember it.”

For more information on Arbor Day, visit www.arborday.org. Visit sustainablefortbragg.com for details on Sustainable Fort Bragg programs.