Sean Harman wanted to honor his father.
The owner of Sean Harman’s Tree Care, LLC did so in the best way he knew how last Wednesday, participating in the fifth annual Saluting Branches at Culpeper National Cemetery.
His father, Capt. Dick Earl Harman, a Vietnam veteran passed away a few years ago from complications from Agent Orange and cancer - and Harman wasn’t able to make his ceremony when he was honored at Arlington National Cemetery.
So on Wednesday, Harman put on his harness, strapped on his helmet, grabbed his saw and went to work in an effort to help honor all of those - including his father - interred at national cemeteries across the nation.
“It was just important to me to give back because almost all of my clientele is military,” Harman said. “That’s what Saluting Branches is about - is to show people about the importance of arborists. We’re very proactive about taking care of the trees and we’re professionally trained about tree health.”
Saluting Branches was originally created by Rainbow Treecare, to organize volunteer tree and landscape care for the properties dedicated to our veterans.
Through united efforts the tree care and landscape industry shows their support for our troops by helping to make their final resting places a safe and beautiful environment for all who visit.
Matthew Priest, Director Culpeper National Cemetery, said that the volunteer effort is greatly appreciated. Already this year, Culpeper National Cemetery has lost 43 trees - mostly ash trees to the Emerald Ash Borer.
“We’ve had to have a lot of tree companies come in and remove them,” he said. “Funding is always difficult is acquire. It’s nice to have companies like this one to sacrifice their time and come out here and do this for the national cemeteries.
“We’re honored they stepped up, they contacted me a couple of weeks ago and we got put on the list,” Priest said. “This is the first time they’ve been here since I’ve been here, we’re honored to have them.”
Harman said the Emerald Ash Borer is a huge problem for ash trees in the area and it’s important to keep trees trimmed and to remove dead ones to stop infestations.
“(There are) huge problems with trimming trees in the middle of summer, they can become infested with borers,” Harman said. “They can destroy thousands of trees.”
Harman is one of just about a dozen certified arborists in Culpeper County, though he mainly works in Northern Virginia.
On Wednesday, the removed dead trees - including one in the cremation area - and trimmed trees in the older section of the cemetery.
Harman climbed a pair of trees down in the older section, using a pulley system to get closer to the dead branches.
“The most important aspect is safety,” Harman said.
Priest said that the ash borer has been a major problem and the cemetery is always looking for donations for new trees to replace the ones that have been lost.
“With the Emerald Ash Borer killing all these trees, it wasn’t planned and (buying new trees) isn’t in the budget,” Priest said. “We have planted seven trees already and we have three more sugar maples to be planted this fall. If someone wants to donate, we have a list of trees that can be donated. We do not plant trees in burial sections anymore but we do have areas we can plant trees.”
For more information on how to donate, contact the administration office at (540) 825-0027.