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Cenotaph tree honours veterans at Christmas time

Letter to the Editor:

A tree growing at the Shire Hall parkette on Picton Main Street was decorated as the town’s Christmas tree this year.

The importance of having a Christmas tree at the Picton Cenotaph is manifold, but there are two very significant reasons that need to be highlighted.

First, the Cenotaph Christmas tree is symbolic of the recognition of Christmas during wartime. The most poignant example is the Christmas Truce of 1914 when a brief ceasefire was agreed upon by German and British soldiers. There were many such truces along the Western Front in that year which gave opportunities for “enemies” to exchange gifts and to find the bodies of their comrades to give them a proper burial.

Second, the Christmas tree reminds us all of the Christmases missed by those who fell in war – whether on Christmas Day or any other time. And for military families today, with loved ones who cannot be home to celebrate Christmas with their families and friends.

The new tradition of laying Christmas wreaths at the gravestones of fallen soldiers pays a deserved honour to those who died in battle-those who could no longer at Christmas dinner with their families.

In Picton, why is there suddenly no municipal support acknowledging our fallen military heroes with a Christmas tree at the Cenotaph? We must not forget.

Inquiries to the Mayor and councillors remain unanswered. The email reply from the Picton Legion read: “No comment! May the force be with you!”

As the County turns another corner, its history is lost and its culture suffers yet again. To watch our municipal council trample forward is nothing less than deplorable. And we all stumble into the New Year.

Conrad Biernacki
Black River

Filed Under: Letters and OpinionNews from Everywhere Else

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  1. Angela says:

    At election time our councillors are all about listening to their constituents but once elected go their merry way with little or no interest in public opinion. There have been suggestions that a tree at the Cenotaph would cost too much which is ridiculous. One community group offered to pay for it and also pay for having it put up. The BIA apparently did not support the idea of the Cenotaph tree. Instead its efforts were focused on obtaining 10 under-sized lighted snowflakes that look too small on the light poles. The Cenotaph tree is just one more tradition taken from this town with no concern for what its residents might want.

  2. Doris Lane says:

    Council has made a number of bad decisions so it is no surprise that they would remove one of the long standing things that have been a tradition in our town
    As some one stated they could have two Christmas trees
    The one at shire hall is not seen by as many people as the one at the cenotaph

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    The idea that by having a Christmas tree at the Cenotaph conflicts with Council’s position on declaring a climate emergency isn’t quite accurate. These trees are farmed and specifically grown to provide a “sustainable” product – just like any other plant we use or eat. Do we worry about picking a lettuce? I too worry about the environment and I can tell you that by placing a tree where one was erected for years isn’t going to have any impact on our climate nor environment. Don’t go down that rabbit hole with council – these are the same people who cut down 30 mature trees in the downtown during the renovations and didn’t think twice about it. If you recall each new tree replacement cost us $6K each! Enough to buy a lifetime worth of Christmas trees – 10 times over!

  4. Angela says:

    The First World War and WW 2 both cut down a generation of young men, Chris. I think we could cut down one tree a year to honour them. I did hear that the county bought an artificial tree for the Cenotaph once but had problems with its lights.

  5. olmanonthemtn says:

    From Nov 14 County Live:
    “Using the tree in the Shire Hall parkette is also a more environmentally-friendly option, said Sarah Doiron, Manager, Picton BIA. “Many people we spoke to were in favour of a real tree. We wanted it to be a live tree so that we can watch it grow, instead of cutting down a new tree each year,” she said.”

    Some commented that since the County declared a crisis emergency it would seem this would be a rationale for the change. I listened to the Dec 1st CBC radio program The Sunday Edition regarding the cutting of live trees for Christmas being favourable to artificial trees which have a much greater environmental impact from their construction to their shipping. A live farmed tree employs a local farmer who replaces it by planting another which then continues to absorb CO2 while the cut tree is recycled to be used as mulch for bedding.

  6. Chris Keen says:

    On the other hand, Council/BIA can hardly declare a climate emergency and then cut down a tree even if it is for the worthy purpose of serving as a symbol of remembrance at the cenotaph. Perhaps those responsible can look into the possibility of decorating a tree (or trees) already there?

  7. Dennis Fox says:

    I believe the writer of the above letter has expressed the feelings of many in this community. I recently read in one of our local papers that council made the decision to move the tree, at the request of the BIA. No reasons for either were given. What does concern me is the total lack of understanding shown about what the community might want or feel about “their” Christmas tree being moved. The Shire Hall location is out of the way and lacks easy access for both seniors or young people. I for one would be interested in hearing what the rationale was for this decision and for that location. In my opinion, it certainly was a bad business decision.

    Has anyone considered the idea of having two trees – one at Shire Hall and the other at the Cenotaph? Why not? It can’t be that expensive and it would sure add to the festive atmosphere of downtown. Let town staff take care of the one at Shire Hall and the BIA and The Chamber of Commerce take care of the one at the Cenotaph. Like it or not, the removal of the Christmas tree from the centre of town has taken away a lot of joy that people experience about the downtown at this time of year. Moving it was a bad decision. I hope those responsible will react in time before this Christmas season is over.

  8. Angela says:

    There should always be a Christmas tree at our Cenotaph and shame on council and the BIA for cancelling this important tradition. The villain of the piece varies depending on whom you ask. Council claims it was the BIA’s decision I have heard and the BIA pleads innocent and blames council. Instead of finger pointing why do they not do something about it? What harm could a second tree do?

  9. Argyle says:

    Someone at Shire Hall made the decision not to have a Christmas tree at the Cenotaph. Accountability has never been a strong point there. Some things remain the same.

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