It’s my opinion that you can never talk enough about a really good cause. For example, the Saluting Branches program. Last year in this space I wrote about the program, which is a partnership between Rainbow Tree Care and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, to provide a day of volunteer tree care — Sept. 21 this year — for veterans’ cemeteries across the country.

I feel strongly that this cause is very much worth telling you about again.

Saluting Branches started in 2015, when on Sept. 23, more than 1,000 volunteers in 20 states spent the day climbing and strategically trimming trees to ensure the safety of visitors at national cemeteries. This year, participation was even better: 1,400 volunteers, at 36 cemeteries in 27 states, donated their time to honor our veterans.

Jim Teiber, arborist for the city of Joliet, Illinois, has been the site leader organizing the work at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery for the past two years. Teiber told The (Joliet, Illinois) Herald-News that it’s important that tree care companies contribute time, employees and equipment for this important cause. “We’re at a cemetery for people who gave everything so these people could stand here today,” Teiber said.

Willamette National Cemetery (Portland, Oregon).

Image Courtesy Of General Tree Care

“It’s really overwhelming — it’s absolutely humbling to be here,” Korey Lofy, of Rainbow Scientific, told KUSA Channel 9 in Denver, Colorado. “It’s such a big honor to be blessed with the opportunity to help provide this service.” Lofy took part in the service at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver. Last year, Lofy volunteered in Minnesota. He told KUSA that Saluting Branches is just “one small thing the tree care community can do to help veterans.”

“They gave so much — more than what a lot of us ever could,” Lofy said. “We hope that this is at least a step in the direction saying you’re not forgotten — and that we are taking care of you.”

On Facebook, the Saluting Branches page displays hundreds of photos of the work volunteers did across the country on Sept. 21. In every photo, every face has a smile on it, which is proof that people working together for a good cause makes us feel good about both our fellow human beings and ourselves. The Facebook page includes hundreds of appreciative comments left by people who participated in the program, work for the cemeteries involved or even have loved ones buried there.

The Saluting Branches program is truly a heartwarming endeavor, and let’s hope that in 2017, even more arborists and helpers step up and join in on this special day of volunteerism and remembrance.

I’d like to personally thank these thoughtful and unselfish arborists (and all participants) who decided to use their talents, skills and resources to improve and make better where our late veterans are laid to rest.

Once again, we salute you.