MAPLE BLUFF, Wis. – The Wisconsin National Guard’s Service Member Support Division once again lent a few helping hands toward continuing a new holiday tradition – decorating the Tribute to Our Troops tree at the Executive Residence.
The tradition dates back to 2005, a year when many Wisconsin military families lost loved ones serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jessica Doyle, the wife of then-governor Jim Doyle, urged him to “do something special.” Gov. Scott Walker continued the tradition when he took office in 2011.
Linda Hughes of Cambria, Wisconsin, made 40 ornaments for that first Tribute to Our Troops tree in 2005 — one for her nephew Joshua, killed earlier that year in Iraq. This year she made 300 ornaments, many shaped like dragonflies. She said many qualities of dragonflies reminded her of qualities common to service members.
“Dragonflies have always been an interest of mine,” she said.
Past ornaments have taken the shape of butterflies, angels, and teddy bears.
“You can’t find red, white [and blue] ornaments very easily,” Hughes added.
This was the first time decorating the Tribute to Our Troops tree for Sgt. Brittany Seeger, a Service Member Support Division staffer who drills with the headquarters company for the 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion.
“It’s great to get the opportunity to work with someone who’s devoted her time as a civilian to recognize those who have fallen and who has supported our service,” Seeger said.
Master Sgt. Amanda Flanagan, a recruiting office supervisor with the 115th Fighter Wing, agreed.
“I think it’s awesome,” Flanagan said. “We’re supporting not only the troops that have fallen but someone who has put her time and effort into making that a memory for the families and friends, especially around the holiday time.”
The tree can be seen during public tours held from noon-2 p.m. Dec. 7, 8, 14 and 15, and from 10 a.m.-noon Dec. 3 and 10.