Update for December 12, 2013
Tree of Angels offers solidarity for families suffering loss
By Jeromy Kusch
Throughout the State of Texas, Christmas trees are being lit for the holidays. On December 7, a special tree was lit in Hondo, the 1st Annual Tree of Angels, sponsored by the 38th District Attorney’s office.
In 1991 Tree of Angels was initiated by People Against Violent Crime (PAVC). The ceremony was established to remember and support victims of violent crimes. Crime victim coordinator Dalia Arteaga said it is good for victims to know they are not alone, “People do care, including the community and law enforcement.”
Arteaga attended a Tree of Angels last year in Bexar County. She was impacted by the service, because her son was murdered in 2011, and she knew that many local victims would benefit as well. “My victims need that kind of togetherness, to know they are not alone,” she said.
As a victim coordinator, Arteaga helps victims of many crimes and says the holidays are especially hard on victims and their families. “People stay busy during the year. Holidays are about family, and that’s when they start to struggle,” she said.
Assistant District Attorney Julie Solis opened the afternoon by thanking law enforcement for their “efforts to protect our community.” Law enforcement was well represented including the District Attorney’s office, the Sheriff’s Department, and the Hondo Police Department. Solis continued by asking victims and their families to remain hopeful.
Tarpley Baptist Church pastor, Richard Sisk, then delivered the invocation. He urged the gathering to “turn to God to fill the void,” as he recounted the loss of his brother and sister-in law to a drunk driver. Sisk drew from his personal experience to offer hope to those who attended.
District Attorney Daniel Kindred then read Governor Rick Perry’s proclamation, which declared the week of December 2-8 as Tree of Angels week in Texas for 2013. The tradition began in 2000 with then-Governor George W. Bush.
Chief Investigator Wayne Springer encouraged survivors, saying they should be recognized for their triumph. Springer then dedicated the tree, saying that it, “allows us to remember, include, and support those we have lost.”
The tree was lit by Ozzie Watters and her twin brother, Presley. At 15, Ozzie survived three gunshot wounds from the same man who shot and killed their mother, Sandra Jo Adair Watters in 2012.
Willis and Helen Adair, Sandra’s parents, and her sister Dana Williams, hung ornaments in her memory during the ceremony.
Loved ones and survivors were encouraged to place their ornaments on the tree. Each bore the name of a victim. Local law enforcement officers escorted families to the tree as they displayed their ornaments.
Arteaga also placed an ornament on the tree. “When it is empty, it’s just a tree with lights, it doesn’t mean anything,” Arteaga said of the ceremony. “When everyone put their ornaments on the tree, it started to represent something.” The tree will remain on display for the month of December.
Thank You for Visiting our Website! If you have any
questions or comments concerning the design or function of this website, please email us
Hondo Anvil Herald