FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Two recently planted oak trees in Fort Jackson's Gate 1 traffic circle represent two things: Soldiers' sacrifice and the necessity of conserving South Carolina's forestry industry.

The tree planting, attended by Brig. Gen. Bradley W. May and local leaders, was part of a joint project aimed at honoring fallen Soldiers while serving as the start of this year's Arbor Day activities.

"Planting the trees provides a visual reminder of the ongoing sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price for freedom," May said. "It is a way to keep them deep in our hearts, and know that they are still here and flourishing."

Arbor Week also includes presentations at local elementary schools, planting of an orchard at the University of South Carolina green quad and a tree planting near the Navy's wing of the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center.

While Arbor Day is celebrated nationally in April, South Carolina's Arbor Day is traditionally the first Friday in December because that is the time when plants are dormant. Planting is most successful when done while the trees are dormant, before new growth begins.

"This day is set aside to recognize the importance of trees to our quality of life. Forestry is the largest manufacturing industry in South Carolina," said Joel Felder, deputy state forester from the S.C. Forestry Commission.

"Live oaks are a fitting choice to represent the brave Soldiers who gave their lives," he added.

Jim Olsen, from Fort Jackson's Plans, Analysis and Integration Office, said the ceremony demonstrated Fort Jackson's dedication to preserving the environment.

"The ceremony honored our mission, brought the community together and helped the environment."

Belinda Gergel, a Columbia councilwoman, said that the Arbor Week planting ceremony was a suitable way to begin this year's celebration, which she has proclaimed "The Year of the Tree."

"We are here to honor great living heroes and our investment into the future."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16