Christmas trees are beautiful holiday symbols that carry special meaning for many people. A very special tree will be decorated at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Courthouse Annex in honor and memory of the angels of Erath County whose lives have been taken or affected by violent crime and domestic abuse.

John Terrill, Erath County district attorney, will be the guest speaker at the ceremony.

“It allows victims and families to get together and make it a little easier. This is always a difficult time of year,” Terrill said. “It does a lot to help them heal.”

People Against Violent Crime (PAVC) reports that a violent crime occurs every three and a half minutes in Texas.

All victims and families of victims are invited to bring an ornament to be placed on this special Christmas tree. Additional ornaments will be available at the ceremony.

Approximately 100 people attend the local annual event.

The community is encouraged to attend the ceremony and reception at the Courthouse Annex to honor victims of violent crime.

“We prosecute so many of these cases and move on to the next. This helps remind us what the victims went through and helps us go through the healing process together,” Terrill said.

Verna Lee Carr started the Tree of Angels program in 1991 with the goal of bringing to light the difficulties victims and families face during the holidays.

In 2001, Erath County victim services staff began participating in the Tree of Angels, a program in which nearly 50 other Texan counties, Oklahoma and Australia participate.

Governor Rick Perry issued a proclamation declaring Dec. 1-6 as Tree of Angels Week in Texas.