For the first time, the Iles House volunteers participated in decorating one of 18 Christmas trees on display in the Governor's Mansion through Christmas and the rest of the holiday season. A Small committee, Sue Massie, Logan McMinn, and especially Betty Ann Poage, Ron Orme, and his wife Coleen arrived at a concept for the tree, developed a design for the overall look of the tree, painstakingly cut out 207 ornamental stars, and finally trim the 8-1/2-foot tree set up for us in a magnificently appointed room. Special thanks go to Jessica Orme, Alisha Hamilton, and Matt Cottrill, who helped with the stars.
The tree's theme was set early on. Ron was eloquent in his appeal to have the tree honor Ilinois' veterans in some way. The question was how to turn the sentiment into physical objects suitable for putting on a Christmas three. It was suggested that we could at least honor illinois vets as far back as the Civil War by tying it to the Medal of Honor. We found a web site, Homeofheroes.com, which listed All Illinois-credited recipients of the Medal in a single database.
There are 207 hand-cut stars hanging on the tree. On one side of each star is imprinted the name, branch of military service, and the Illinois town associated with the recipient. On the other side is his rank, his unit, and the place and date of the action that won him the honor. In addition, the tree is festooned with various wide strips of ribbon imprinted with American flags, and studded with small reproductions of the flags of the various military services.
At the bottom, a child's set of military toys from each branch of the service, and atop all, a very patriotic angel. It was a very labor-intensive project, but a labor of Love, as these photos of their results show.