Tree planting honors veterans in Roanoke

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) With a little encouragement, and many hands to shovel the fresh soil, the first of five red oaks found a new home Friday morning.

For the second year, the city has partnered with the Roanoke Valley Veterans Council, and Carilion Clinic has provided funding, to plant trees in honor of the men and women who have served, and sacrificed, as members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Bill Bestpitch is a veteran and member of Roanoke City Council.

"Trees will be around a long time, and we want memories of veterans and their service to this country to be remembered for a long time," Bestpitch said.

The veterans, volunteers and city employees who gathered in Entranceway Park also recognized the 100th anniversary of the American Legion.

"Their motto is for God and Country, and they live that motto out," said Dan Karnes, with the Roanoke Valley Veterans Council. "It's a good organization."

The location of the first planting was just across the street from where the American Legion Auditorium once stood.

"And on the first of September 1947, they purchased the auditorium for $55,000," Bestpitch said.

"They had country music shows. They had wrestling. They had the circus," Karnes added. "It was like the Roanoke Civic Center, because there was no civic center at that time."

Among the volunteers who helped with the planting was Roanoke Tree Steward Bobby Lyon.

A U.S Army veteran himself, Lyon found five young trees to be a fitting tribute.

"As they grow, they're like freedom in our country," Lyon said. "It just gets bigger and better, and hopefully stronger."

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