DENVER – This year’s State Capitol holiday tree, themed the “Gold Star Tree of Honor,” again pays tribute to the more than 350 Colorado military service members lost in the global war on terror since Sept. 11, 2001, as well as their families.
On Dec. 12, Gov. John Hickenlooper hosted a private reception for Gold Star Families – the survivors of service members who have lost their lives in conflict or in support of certain military operations – alongside the tree at the State Capitol.
The Capitol tree was provided for the eighth year in a row by the Colorado State Forest Service Fort Collins Field Office. The approximately 35-year-old, 22-foot subalpine fir was harvested on State Trust Land in northern Larimer County.
Recognizing Gold Star families
“We feel that it is a special privilege to provide this holiday tree in honor of our fallen heroes,” said Mike Lester, state forester and director of the CSFS, who is himself from a Gold Star Family.
“It is equally important to honor the Gold Star Families in this holiday season, when we feel the loss of those who gave their lives so keenly.”
Colorado National Guard soldiers and their families decorated the tree, and branches trimmed off of it were used by the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to craft decorative boughs for the families of currently deployed service members.
Harvesting to improve forest health
Each year, CSFS foresters selectively cut the State Capitol holiday tree and other, smaller festive trees destined for the Colorado State University campus as part of ongoing management efforts to improve forest health.