Maine Christmas Tree Honoring Vets Called Tacky

Fox News is all over this story, as is the local media in Maine where the town council of Bar Harbor has decided to ban a Christmas tree honoring vets who fought at the Battle of the Bulge in World War II because the tree was “tacky” according to town manager Dana Reed.

The tree began just two years ago when an organization called Wreaths Across America asked for and received permission from the city council to put lights on a tree with a small plaque nearby that read:

The Christmas They Never Had. Wreaths Across America dedicates this perpetually lit tree in honor of those men and women who in service to our Country, were separated from loved ones during the holiday season. Regardless of religious beliefs or creed their sacrifice must always be remembered. July 9, 2011.

The lighted tree and plaque were particularly intended to honor and remember veterans of World War II. It was dedicated at the urging of Battle of the Bulge, POW and WWII survivor and Wreaths Across America board member Stanley Wojtusik of Philadelphia. “The Christmas They Never Had” is a reference to the holiday that was missed by members of the military in 1944.

Earlier this month, however, the Town Council declined to extend a two-year lease it had granted Wreaths Across America. It gave the organization 30 days to remove the lights.

“I don’t believe a Christmas tree is a universal symbol,” said council chair Ruth Eveland, who joined the majority in a 4-2 vote against renewing the lease.

“I believe that was the case” with some opponents, she said Friday, that they objected because the plaque referred to Christmas and they were not Christians.

“My reason for voting against it was I didn’t feel it belonged on town property,” said Eveland. “We already have a veterans memorial plaque on a different piece of town property. I felt that was adequate.”

The fact that the lighted tree was a memorial to veterans who had to miss a family holiday gathering because of the war was “too complicated a symbolism,” said Eveland, and was “not meaningful” to some, including veterans.

“I even heard it from people who said they were Christians,” she said.

The existing plaque on the village green is a “more universal symbol than a Christmas tree,” said Eveland.

Eveland said she could not quantify the number of complaints the Town Council received from constituents. She heard from as many constituents as on any of the other controversial issues that have come before the Town Council, she added. When asked about how many, she indicated approximately 10.

It sounds like the town council of Bar Harbor, Maine could use a good lesson in the American history of the Christmas tree as a symbol of freedom.

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