In a world where much of the national—and global—news is mostly bad news, and where potential U.S. presidential candidates are constantly shooting off their mouths on every TV channel every day, it’s refreshing to hear about good people doing great things. A fine example is the recent partnership of Rainbow Tree Care and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: the Saluting Branches program.

Rainbow, a tree care company based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, in conjunction with the VA, worked to provide a day of volunteer tree care—Sept. 23—for veterans’ cemeteries across the country. The goal was to keep our veterans’ cemeteries safe, beautiful places for all those who visit. More than 1,000 volunteers spent that day climbing and trimming trees to ensure the safety of visitors at national cemeteries in 20 states.

“What a true arborist does is we get up there and clean it up, where a non-tree person can look up and not really see what we’ve done,” Tim Clifft, a participant in Saluting Branches, who works for Full Circle Tree & Shrub in Nashville, Tennessee, told The Nashville Tennessean. Clift and 10 other volunteer arborists spent the day cleaning up giant oaks and other trees in the Nashville National Cemetery.

Joe Shaw, of Davey Tree, said about the program: “It’s an honor to be able to provide a service not only to the men and women that made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our freedom would be preserved, but also for the families of those men and women. They should be able to feel safe and tranquil while visiting and remembering their loved one that gave so much.”

At the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois, ash trees that have long offered shade and appeal to the cemetery’s Memorial Walk have been rapidly dying from an emerald ash borer infestation. Many of those trees were taken down and replaced by more than 30 volunteers.

“I’m a certified arborist and an American,” Jeff Marrs with Stump’s Tree Care (Joliet, Illinois), told “I have quite a few friends who are buried here and at national cemeteries around the country. It’s nice for them to get this much work done all at once and have budgeted money they can spend on other stuff. There’s an endless amount of trees here to cut and trim.”

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

A3600_1_fullThe Saluting Branches program is truly a heartwarming, worthy endeavor.

When I see kindhearted, philanthropic and charitable people being so generous with their valuable time, it reminds me that, despite all the bad and unpleasant things in this world, there still is good to be found.

Probably we all can do more to recognize the sacrifices our veterans have made for our safety. In this case, these thoughtful and unselfish arborists decided to use their talents, skills and resources to improve where our late veterans are laid to rest.

We salute you.

Rob Meyer
Editor in Chief