WASHINGTON (AP) This year”s Capitol Christmas tree was named the Tree of Hope months before the terrorist attacks on the United States.

Paul Wong
The 2001 Capitol Holiday Tree from Michigan is illuminated on Capitol Hill in Washington late yesterday.<br><br>AP PHOTO

But the name took on even deeper meaning for those who attended its lighting last night.

Michigan Gov. John Engler and the state”s Congressional delegation were among those on hand for the ceremonial lighting of the tree brought to Washington from the Ottawa National Forest in Michigan”s Upper Peninsula.

“Back last spring, when organizers were considering a name for this tree, they agreed that hope is a characteristic of Upper Peninsula residents, who often face adversity,” said Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Menominee), whose district includes the forest.

“In the wake of the events of September 11, this tree has clearly become a symbol of hope for the entire nation.”

Engler”s triplet 7-year-old daughters helped House Speaker Dennis Hastert push the button to light the tree as night fell over the Capitol.

“The lights on this tree symbolize the hope that Americans hold in our hearts, a hope that I think burns brighter in this season,” Engler said.

The 67-year-old, 74-foot white spruce was personally selected by the capitol”s landscape architect. It was cut Nov. 13 and taken to Washington on a semi-truck.

After the holidays, the tree will be milled into lumber for Michigan Habitat for Humanity homes. The ornaments will be auctioned, with proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity and Michigan arts organizations, Engler said.

Michelle Engler, Michigan”s first lady and honorary chairwoman of the Tree of Hope Committee, said the message accompanying the tree is one of hope for the new millennium.

“Hope is a very powerful force in the lives of people,” she said before the ceremony. “Hope is also what Michigan wishes for the entire country in both this time of great generosity of spirit and in the coming new year.”

The tree is covered in ornaments made by people across Michigan, including many from schoolchildren. The tree”s theme was “Hope Takes Flight,” so many of the ornaments depicted winged creatures.

About 6,000 ornaments were donated, too many to put on the tree. Capitol grounds workers said it was many more ornaments than they had seen for trees in the past.

Choirs from Redford Union High School in suburban Detroit and Ewen-Trout Creek High School in the Upper Peninsula performed for the crowd.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *