The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken lives from many nations and every state, including those of thirty-eight West Virginians who died in the line of military duty. On April 25, these brave men and women will be honored with a special ceremony at Zion Heritage Farm in Fairmont.
A memorial grove will be planted in the midst of a scenic eight-acre orchard—with one apple tree for each of the state’s fallen heroes—and you’re invited to help.
“We hope it will be a day of happiness, not sorrow,” said Heather Neill, the orchard’s owner, who has lined up music and refreshments and who will be joined by the honorees’ families along with representatives from the state’s Department of Agriculture. “We hope the trees will be a joyous memorial to their lives, not their deaths.”
The planting will begin at 2:00 PM, and visitors are welcome to join in the digging or just watch. Either way, be sure to wear comfortable clothes and consider bringing a dish to share.
Once the trees are planted, family members of the fallen heroes will each select a tree by placing their loved one’s dog tags on it. This section of the farm, which will include a granite bench for quiet reflection, will remain open to these families year-round, and they are invited return at harvest to pick fruit from their trees.
The rest of Zion Heritage Farm, which started in Spring 2014, focuses on organic apples. Most of the two-hundred trees grow heirloom varieties, including West Virginia’s own Grimes Golden.