Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
The magnificent Englemann Spruce from the Payette National Forest that stands at the U.S. Capitol this Christmas is a small portion of the natural beauty that we are fortunate to have in Idaho. Thank you to all the Idahoans who helped kick off the Christmas season by presenting the nation with the "People's Tree". Let this tree be a sign of good cheer and the holiday season and bring us together.
Picking the right tree and making sure it made it to our nation's capital safely was no small task. Many people have been involved in this project, and it would be impossible to recognize them all. From Payette National Forest Supervisor Keith Lannom and staff; to Gary Amoth, who hauled the tree 3,771 miles from the Payette National Forest; to all of the Idahoans who participated in making the ornaments on this tree and the 70 companion trees; many made a great effort to share an Idaho Gem with our nation. More than 18,000 ornaments handmade by Idahoans accompanied the tree.
At the lighting of the tree in Washington, D.C., we were joined by special Idahoans. This included Idaho State Trooper Brandalyn Crapo, representing the Idaho State Police. Trooper Crapo was driving the lead vehicle guiding the tree from McCall to Boise when her vehicle was struck by another. Fortunately, she came out of the crash far better than her vehicle did and is making a full recovery. Her service along with the efforts of all other first responders who made sure that the tree was transported safely over the thousands of miles are greatly valued.
Welcoming Isabella Gerard, a fifth grader from St. Mary's School in Boise, to our Capitol to assist with lighting the tree was also an honor. She won the drawing to represent Idaho and help U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan light the tree. She is a great representative of our state, and she shared her wonderful poem "Pristine Idaho Mountains".
Being from Idaho is a source of pride. Idahoans are giving, thoughtful and gracious. As I have looked at Idaho's U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, thought about all the steps it took for many to get it to the Capitol and throughout the daily interactions I have with fellow Idahoans, I am continuously reminded of the goodwill of Idahoans. Helping to sharea piece of our home state, symbolic of Idahoans' kindness, has been a great honor.
My wish is that this tree, conveyed with great love and pride in our country, will be a beacon of hope to those who may be struggling or are separated from loved ones. I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and may God bless you and your family.
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