Since 2002 staff members of Erath County victims services has held its Tree of Angels program to remember victims, their families and honor survivors of violent crime and will host its 15th annual ceremony at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5, at the Donald R. Jones Justice Center; 112 W. College Street.
“The Tree of Angels is a time for victims, families and friends of victims to come together and remember those that have been victimized or lost due to violent crime,” Laurie Gillispie with the district attorney’s office wrote. “The guest speaker at Monday’s event will be T.K. Roberts, daughter of Jerry and Kelly Thomas who were murdered on August 24, 2001 by Bobby DeWeese and Zachary Smith at their home near Morgan Mill.”
As far as choosing a guest speaker, Gillispie said the victims services staff reach out to people every year.
“We try to use past victims that we have worked with,” she said.
At the ceremony loved ones can light a candle and bring an angel ornament to place on a Christmas tree.
The Tree of Angels program was initiated by People Against Violent Crime in Austin in 1991 and has become a tradition observed throughout Texas communities with 32 counties involved.
Back in 2000, former Governor George W. Bush proclaimed the week of Dec. 4-10 as Tree of Angels Week and since, Governor Rick Perry has done the same issuing a statewide proclamation designating the first week of December.
At last year’s Erath County Tree of Angels ceremony Judy Littlefield was the guest speaker sharing the story of the loss of her son Chad and Mayor Kenny Weldon read a resolution declaring Dec. 7 as Tree of Angels Day.
“We could chose to be bitter or we could choose to rise above it,” Littlefield said at last year’s ceremony. “We choose to live, which is what Chad would want us to do.”
Monday, after Roberts gives her speech, a Tree of Angels poem written by Susy Warren will be read followed by the hanging of angel ornaments.
“(Susy) and Dale have taken photos every year a the event and several years ago she wrote a poem after attending so many and we’ve read it every year since,” Gillispie said.
The service is open to the public and refreshments will be served after the ceremony.
For more information about Monday’s 15th annual Tree of Angels ceremony or victims services contact Gillispie at 254-965-1462.