Arborists trim branches for military branches

Landscapers volunteer to keep the gravesites of veterans well kempt.
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 12:34 AM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Saluting Branches is a day of service across the nation where landscape professionals volunteer to honor veterans by trimming up cemeteries.

More than a dozen arborists, vegetation specialists, and landscape professionals gathered at the Black Hills National Cemetery Wednesday morning to touch up the grounds.

Saluting Branches typically take place on the third Wednesday of September each year.

Last year, volunteers in South Dakota joined the national event, and now they’ve returned to the Black Hills National Cemetery.

Black Hills Energy vegetation management specialist, Derek Makley said they are more than happy to lend a hand to help out the community.

“Just giving back to our veterans, our fallen soldiers, the people that make the big sacrifice for us to be able to be here and be doing what we love to do. It’s kind of a niche little career, arboriculture. It’s nice to use that to give back and do something meaningful for our community and our veterans,” Makley said.

It is important to remember this is not a paid job. Contractors and volunteers are donating their time to reshape the cemetery, but workers like Wright Tree Service foreman, Dale Muller said they enjoy doing it.

“Pretty much just having fun. We’re not working we’re not having to work on a power line today. We’re doing something that’s beneficial,” Muller said.

There is typically only one gardener on the grounds according to Makley. The annual job depends on what the cemetery needs most this year it was trimming the heritage elms.

The non-profit project started in Minneapolis with Rainbow Treecare and this is the ninth year volunteers have signed up to take care of both tree branches and military branches.