On this the eve of veterans day we would like to salute all who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
Our veterans who chose to serve and protect our lands and our freedoms. Who also protect the lands and freedoms of others as well. To you we offer our hearts and sincerest gratitude.
Our focus at Dancing Tree Gifts is on trees. We love trees, we love what they do for us, the connections that so many have with trees, and what they symbolize.
So how to salute the military with a post on trees? Easy.
Or we can discuss the symbolism of the oak tree in the US military.
We’ll do the latter. Cause I’m the one in charge of writing and I don’t have an oak tree in my yard, or a soldier coming home.
As we learned last week. Oak trees have been used as national symbols for centuries in many countries. Even becoming our national tree in 2004.
So it only seems natural that the oak tree in some form is connected to those that have sworn to protect us: our military.
Oak Leaves, Rank, and Awards.
Oak leaves have been used as a military symbols in various nations. As in Germany and England, generally denoting an act of valor or service rendered. Sometimes connoting rank as it does for the rank of Major or it’s equivalent in several branches of the US Armed Forces.
Here’s a brief overview of how the oak leaves are used to decorate.
A gold oak leaf indicates a major or a lieutenant commander.
A silver oak leaf indicates a lieutenant colonel or a commander.
Different branches of the U.S. Navy staff corps officers use arrangements of oak leaves, acorns and sprigs.
Many awards of the same medal are represented in the U.S. Army and Air Force with an Oak Leaf Cluster, either bronze or silver, and attached to the appropriate ribbon for each subsequent award. (1)
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about watch an episode of M.A.S.H. and you’ll see the use of the oak leaf on the uniforms.
The roots of oaks in the military runs deeper still.
Maybe the reason for this is due to the history of the USS Constitution, the U.S. Navy’s oldest commissioned ship.
The USS Constitution, one of the most formidable ships of it’s time, was launched in 1797.
During the war of 1812 it earned its nickname “old ironsides” when the cannonballs from the HMS Guerrier were seen bouncing off it’s 22 inch thick hull. The sailors yelled “Huzzah, her sides are made of iron!” (3)
The USS Constitution is made of white oak and other oaks, and as indicated above, it is a beautiful hardwood. In the early days of the United States of America. White oak was a plentiful wood, and many of our naval ships were built from it.
Yet, over time, due to farming, shipbuilding, railroad ties, housing and more, the white oak started to diminish.
The US Navy maintains Constitution Grove near Bloomington Indiana. Its sole purpose is to provide white oak timber for repairing the USS Constitution.
But don’t worry. The groves arborists maintain the rich ecosystem. Any tree removed is done with great care so as not to disrupt the biodiversity of the area.(3)
Oak trees as a symbol of community
On October 8, 2019 leaders from the 7th Army Training Command (7ATC) in Grafenwoehr, Germany, planted a tree near the 7ATC’s Tower Barracks.
This tree planting was the culmination of a partnership between the 7ATC, the German forest service (Bundesforst), and community members.
The ceremony represented coming together as a community. Best summed up in the quote below.
“This is a symbol of courage and strength that will remind us every time we pass by, of the things that we have in the community; our brothers and sisters in arms, our partners and allies,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Maracle, the chaplain for 7 ATC. (4)
As the national tree to both Germany and the US the oak has a special meaning and was a natural choice to represent unity.
Tall, Majestic, and Loved
It’s a beautiful thing when so many can connect with nature on any level. So why not feel a connection to the oak trees in all their variety?
They are strong and hardy, something I aspire to be in both body and mind. They are comforting in their grace and provide welcomed relief from summer heat with their shade.
and so much more.
It’s only right that we give something back through preservation efforts, such as in the Constitution Grove.
We honor our military by honoring the tree that means so much to so many.
I’ll end with a beautiful quote on life and trees.