Robins plants memorial trees

wcrenshaw@macon.comApril 26, 2013 

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE -- When Col. James Dienst first arrived at Robins a couple of years ago, he was walking his dog along the edge of the parade field when he made a discovery.

He saw something shiny in the grass near a tree and bent down to brush away the leaves to see what it was.

“It was a plaque,” he said. “Then I started looking around at the other trees, and they all had one.”

What he learned was that he was in the base’s historic forest. Each year, in recognition of Arbor Day, the base plants trees on the edge of the parade field, with a memorial plaque.

Dienst is commander of the 78th Medical Group and spoke at Friday’s Arbor Day ceremony. After he learned about the historic forest, the 78th Medical Group adopted the parade field park, and members work to maintain it. The group also sponsored a tree for this year’s ceremony to recognize wounded warriors.

They bought a large yellow poplar. Two other trees also were planted, each in memory of a civilian employee at the base.

About 70 people gathered for the ceremony, including friends and family members of those being memorialized. After the ceremony, they joined together to plant the trees.

The Georgia Forestry Commission also presented the base with its 20th consecutive Tree City USA award. Holding an Arbor Day ceremony is one of the requirements for it.

Col. Roger Johnson, commander of the 78th Mission Support Group, accepted the Tree City USA award on behalf of the base.

He said while trees have many practical benefits, spiritual benefits are also important.

“I think most of us just enjoy the beauty of the trees and the animals that live and play in the trees,” he said. “It’s just a great, refreshing renewal to our own spirits.”

In Georgia, Arbor Day is recognized in February because it’s considered a better time to plant, but Robins recognizes it in April in conjunction with national Arbor Day, the last Friday in April, and Earth Day, which was Monday.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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