Cannon officials plant a tree in honor of Earth Day and Arbor Day Monday at the intersection of DL Ingram and Casablanca streets with the help from children with the Cannon Child Development Center in honor of Cannon being a Tree City USA.
By Gary Mitchell
With the wind chill factor in the upper 30s, the air damp and cold, Mesa Elementary School students and teachers joined Cannon Air Force Base officials and community leaders on Tuesday in planting a tree at the school.
Two plantings — one at Mesa and one at Cannon, were in celebration of Earth Day, as well as Cannon’s fifth-year designation as Tree City USA.
Col. Robert “Rowdy” Yates, 27th Fighter Wing commander, looked at the shivering children in the audience.
“Is everybody nice and warm?” he asked.
“No,” the children responded.
Jan Cox, principal at Mesa, welcomed children and guests on Earth Day with a cheery, “Good morning — It’s a beautiful day.”
Groans were heard sporadically through the audience — and a few chuckles.
Carla Givens, solid waste manager at Cannon, donated the tree to be planted in the Mesa garden on the south side of the school facility.
The children sang the “Earth Song” after the speakers made their presentations.
“In your classes, you’ll learn about all the valuable resources that the Earth provides,” Yates said. “Studying the environment is exciting. We all need to protect the Earth as well.
Yates and 6-year-old Morgan Givens shoveled the first spades of dirt in planting the tree during the brief ceremony.
“I liked planting the tree,” said the shy youngster, who represented those families from Cannon who had loved ones deployed during the Iraqi war.
“The weather was cold, but it (the ceremony) was cool,” said 12-year-old Scott McMath. “I like it that we get together and celebrate.”
“It was fun,” said 11-year-old Shannon Krohn. “We were trying to keep warm. I liked singing the Earth Day song.”
“I even tried to use my umbrella to block the wind to keep warm,” said 11-year-old Alicia Whittington. “I liked the fact that they planted the tree, and it’s always going to be here. We can come back and see it.”
Holly Harrison, 12, joined with friends in a cooperative effort to keep warm.
“Me and my best friend, Brook, and Justin were all huddling together,” she said. “I liked getting outside away from school.”
Justin Kyle, 12, had no jacket and seemed to appreciate being huddled between his classmates.
“I liked the fact everyone got together to celebrate the day and honor the Earth, so we’ll know not to pollute,” he said. “We need the Earth to survive.”
Carla Givens said Cox came up with the idea of putting yellow ribbons and miniature American flags in the trees around the Mesa campus as part of the celebration.
“I thought it was wonderful,” she said. “Cannon donated the tree as part of our Earth Day celebration. We’ll be planting a tree on base, and the New Mexico Forestry Service will be presenting a trophy for Cannon’s fifth year as a Tree City USA. The only other city in New Mexico that has been a Tree City USA longer than Cannon is Albuquerque.”
Later on base, Cannon officials planted a tree in honor of Earth Day and Arbor Day at the intersection of D.L. Ingram and Casablanca streets.
“It’s a typical New Mexico day — a little bit of wind and a little bit of chill,” he said. “We’re doing this for our Earth to be a better place for future generations to grow up in. Taking care of the environment is everyone’s job.”
Paul Lyons, a representative from the New Mexico Forestry Service, presented the fifth-year trophy to Yates.
“This is Cannon’s fifth year as a Tree City USA,” Lyons said. “It’s something to be proud of. The whole idea of Tree City USA is to make the community aware of the importance of trees. Imagine the Earth without trees. It would be a desolate place. Trees are a sign of life.”