Harlem's Pioneer Garden Club honored the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect the city from fire and crime at a tree-planting ceremony Thursday at Harlem City Hall.
Five members of the Harlem Department of Public Safety and a Georgia Forestry Commission ranger were on hand as the garden club dedicated a five-foot-tall male gingko tree sapling in honor of emergency personnel who have died, those currently serving and those who serve in the future.
Harlem police officers have served since the 1870s, and the Harlem volunteer firefighters have served since 1948, said city councilwoman Robin Root.
"In 2004, the Harlem Police Department and the Harlem Fire Department united to become the Harlem Department of Public Safety, giving us around-the-clock protection (from crime and fires)," Root said. "Today, the Pioneer Garden Club and the city of Harlem would like a moment to give our sincere thanks to those police officers and firefighters by planting this noble tree, in honor of those who have passed on, retired, and those who still serve us today."
Harlem Capt. Tripp Lonergan called the day an honor to all officers and firefighters who serve.
Lonergan was joined in the dedication by firefighters Kevin Stokes and Robert Holland, Georgia Forestry Commission chief ranger Steve Abbott, officer Kelvin Hartwell, and teen fire explorer Bo Inglett.
"We are very appreciative of this act," Lonergan said. "It is not something that we look for. We have a job to do and that's what we go out and do."
The tree dedication coincided with the club's celebration of Arbor Day, which was celebrated in Georgia on Feb. 17. Arbor Day organizers chose to emphasize the work of emergency personnel by dedicating trees planted in their honor, said garden club president Ann Blalock.
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