Tree for Our Troops and Veterans was started three years ago when a number of our young men in the area of Clarksville were serving in Afghanistan.

I am the grandmother of one of those young men and had recently read a fictional story about a small town that put up a Christmas tree in honor of their young people in the military and veterans.

Inspired by that story, I asked the Kendall family if we could put up a tree in front of their store in the center of our village. Military patches and red, white and blue balls were on the fictional tree; we have yellow ribbons on our tree, with the names of our active military and veterans. The Clarksville tree also has patches, stickers, VFW hats, flags and other military or patriotic items brought to us by our neighbors. Instead of a star on the top, we have an American flag. Sometimes, items are added by local people, even after the tree has been lit.

Last year, as I was putting away the decorations, I found a star from an American flag with this message on the back: "I am a part of our American Flag. I have flown over a home in the U.S.A. The Sun and Winds have caused me to become tattered and torn. Please carry me as a reminder that you are not forgotten."

The VFW in Ellicott City has a ceremony to light our tree for us. This year, it will be on Monday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m. You are welcome to come join us for our fourth year celebration.

Ann Parlette

Clarksville