FORT BRAGG, N.C. - On a brisk Wednesday morning, visitors to the Soldiers Support Center were greeted by the sight of Soldiers energetically digging holes and planting a variety of plants, and the laughter of people working together to make a difference, March 8.
The Soldiers, assigned to the XVIII Airborne Corps, were participating in the Arbor Days program, which is sponsored by the Directorate of Public Works. Each year, DPW sponsors five Arbor Day events, all designed to improve the aesthetic of the post. It gives those who call Bragg home the opportunity to invest in their “hometown,” while learning a little bit about what it takes to make something grow.
Brian Vesely, an architect at DPW, leads the Arbor Days events. Vesely explained due to the heat and humidity that comes with Carolina summers, they plan the Arbor Day events during the winter months to allow the plants enough time to grow to withstand the summer sun.
Vesely explained they plant trees, shrubs, and grasses native to North Carolina to give them a better chance to survive. Throughout the day they planted: 20 Yucca (Yucca Filamentosa/Adams needle), 50 Purple Muhly Grass (muhlenbergia capillaris) and 15 Long Leaf Pines (Pinus palustris).
The area where the beautification took place is to the left of the Soldier Support Center. Prior to Wednesday’s planting, the only greenery around was a towering Christmas tree that once graced the grounds at Womack Army Medical Center.
When asked how they chose the Soldier Support Center, Vesely noted for many newcomers to the post, the Soldier Support Center is their first destination, which made it a prime location for beautification. And, as it has been noted, one never has a second chance to make a first impression.
Some of the Soldiers who were participating had prior experience in planting prior to joining the Army. Spc. Alex Harmon worked in yard landscaping before joining the Army and was enjoying his chance to go back to his roots and share tricks of the trade.
A young Soldier from Virginia got some ribbing from his friends when he admitted he had helped plant rose bushes. He laughed along with his friends, and diligently went back to planting.
Master Sgt. Ashley Cuthbertson was one of a handful of women on the job. As she diligently dug a hole for her tree, she stopped, leaning against her shovel, and noted, “This is hard. I didn’t think it would be this hard.” She then straightened up and started digging again.
If you are interested in participating in the beautification projects, there are two more opportunities on April 12 at the Soldier Recovery Unit and May 10 at the Native American Pollinator Garden located in Willow Lakes Park.