‘It’s very humbling:’ Arborists worked for free, trimming trees at Wood National Cemetery

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MILWAUKEE -- Dozens of tree care specialists worked for free Wednesday, Sept. 18 in Milwaukee. This, as the industry came together for the fifth annual Saluting Branches Day of Service.

Lee Fredericks

At Wood National Cemetery, the grounds are cared for with an eye of perfection by six caretakers. Overhead, there was a lot of work to be done for these volunteers Wednesday.

"You can't help but step foot on here and ask yourself about the lives and the challenges that so many of these veterans have gone through," said Lee Fredericks, Saluting Branches site leader.

On Wednesday, more than 60 tree specialists volunteered their time to lend a hand.


Aaron Dishaw

"I can't even explain how big of a help this is," said Aaron Dishaw, cemetery care technician.

Organizers estimated the labor would cost around $500,000 -- money cemetery officials could instead put towards other efforts.

"We can do more flag placements during Memorial Day," said Dishaw. "We can purchase more flags to be put on the grave sites, our avenue of flags. That's all funding that's more available with their donated work."

Volunteer Derek Beattie said he was grateful to do his part. As a veteran himself, he said he wanted to help bring the grounds one branch closer to perfection.

"It's very humbling," said Beattie. "I never had a chance to deploy, and then you come here, and all these brothers and sisters that did and never came back alive. It's very humbling."

The trimmings also helped keep the grounds safe for people visiting.

Similar volunteer events happened at more than 60 national cemeteries across the country.

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