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Tree City USA plants faith in future

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Lt. Col. Christopher Teke, commander of the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron, and Donna Harris, Colorado state forester representative, help School Age Care program children plant a tree during the 20th anniversary celebration of Schriever Air Force Base’s partnership with Tree City USA and observance of Arbor Day at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, July 27, 2018. Teke explained to attendees the importance of trees on Schriever AFB, and why we observe Arbor Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

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Donna Harris, state forester representative, speaks to School Age Care program children about the importance of trees during the 20 year anniversary of Schriever Air Force Base’s partnership with Tree City USA and observance of Arbor Day at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, July 27, 2018. Harris presented Lt. Col. Christopher Teke, commander of the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron, a 20 year plaque celebrating the partnership with Tree City USA. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

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School Age Care program children smile after successfully planting a tree during the 20th anniversary celebration of Schriever Air Force Base’s partnership with Tree City USA and observance of Arbor Day at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, July 27, 2018. Arbor Day was established as a national observance in the 1870s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

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School Age Care program children help plant a tree during the 20 year anniversary of Schriever Air Force Base’s partnership with Tree City USA and observance of Arbor Day at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, July 27, 2018. Children spent the morning learning about the importance of trees and how they can shape the future environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

On July 27, Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado celebrated Arbor Day and the base’s 20th consecutive year as a member of Tree City USA, a nationwide movement providing the necessary framework for communities to manage and expand their public trees.

Lane Meidinger, chief of environmental with the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron, began the ceremony in front of the Child Development Center, saying, “We are truly creating a beautiful environment for our friends and family.”

Donna Davis, Colorado state forester representative, presented a 20 year plaque to Lt. Col. Christopher Teke, commander of the 50th CES, commemorating the partnership with Tree City USA.

“It’s with a great deal of honor and pleasure on behalf of the National Arbor Day Foundation, that I present this award to Lt. Col. Teke,” she said. “You don’t just get the award, you have to earn it. You earn it by having a tree ordinance and planting a tree.”

Harris spoke with the children at the Child Development Center and School Age Care program, explaining why planting trees is so important.

“I know you’ve been planting trees for 20 years, and those 20 trees really do make a difference,” she added.

Teke then spoke about the history of Arbor Day, a day observed in the United States as a time to plant trees and reflect on many advantages people derive from trees.

Frank Lloyd Wright, the American architect, interior designer, writer and educator once said, “The best friend on Earth of man, is the tree.”

On Jan. 4, 1872, J. Sterling Morton, journalist who spread agricultural information and enthusiasm for trees to his audience, proposed a tree-planting holiday.

Arbor Day was officially proclaimed by Nebraska State Governor Robert Furnas on March 12, 1874, and the day itself was observed April 10, 1874.

In 1885, Arbor Day was named a legal holiday in Nebraska, and other states soon passed legislation to observe Arbor Day.

“This 144 year old tradition began with a proclamation in Nebraska to observe the first Arbor Day April 10, 1874, encouraging homesteaders to plant trees that provide shade, shelter and beauty for the residence of the largely treeless plains,” he said.

Teke related the early settlers to Schriever Airmen, stressing the importance of fulfilling our duty to “provide shade, shelter and beauty for the future workers and residences of our base.”

Additionally, Teke explained by planting trees, Schriever Airmen and their families are leaving a legacy to be enjoyed by future generations.

“Many of the most beautiful trees in Colorado Springs were planted half a century ago by people with a vision for the future,” he said. “The planting of a tree symbolizes an act of faith in the future. It shows our commitment to the environment and the earth-our home. When we use the tree respectfully and economically, we have one of the greatest resources of the earth.”

Teke added members of the base are making yet another investment in the future.

“Our commitment to planting trees and being a part of the Tree City USA program is a great way to show Schriever’s commitment to the environment,” he said.

Teke ended the ceremony reciting the Arbor Day proclamation.

“Therefore, I do hear by proclaim this day, July 27, 2018, as Arbor Day for the 50th Space Wing and Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
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