Volunteers Tidy Up Veterans’ Cemetery

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A small band of volunteers gathered to prune trees and shrubs at the Vermont Veterans’ Cemetery in Randolph Center a week ago. One member of the crew, VTC student Chris Sabatino, served six years in the army, following his commission from Norwich University.

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“I was stationed in Korea, Germany, Afghanistan, Fort Drum, and then back in Afghanistan.”

Attending VTC now on the GI Bill, Sabatino was happy to learn of a national program, Saluting Branches, started in Minnesota, three years ago to honor military veterans by setting aside one day a year to donate tree work to veterans’ cemeteries. The program has expanded rapidly. Now in its third year, it is contributing tree work in 45 locations across the nation.

VTC student Chris Sabatino hauls pruned branches away from the Vermont Veterans’ Cemetery as he volunteers through a national arboreal program, Saluting Branches, Wednesday. (Herald / Bob Eddy)

Here in Vermont, Chris’s younger brother, Mike, a certified arborist with Limbwalker Tree Service in Shelburne, signed up, as did several others.

Anne Wood of Northfield is neither a vet or a professional tree worker. Office manager at Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center, hosted by VTC, she learned of the program through a poster on campus.

“I have four children; two of them are Navy vets,” she said, adding, "I’m here for them and my dad, who was a Marine.”

Bill Conn, a tree man with VELCO, came up from Rutland for the day, as did Mark Duntemann of Randolph, an arborist whose company, Natural Path, provides urban forestry consultation, internationally.

Taking orders from cemetery caretaker, Bob Durkee, the crew provided structural pruning in maples ringing the circle of flags at the entrance to the cemetery grounds.


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