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Lanza’s cedar planted on JBLM

Commanding General’s Arboretum gets another tree

Lt. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, previous I Corps commanding general, shovels dirt onto the Western red cedar tree planted April 19 in his honor at a tree dedication ceremony at the Commanders’ Grove outside the Liberty Gate at Lewis Main. JBLM PAO photo

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The classic poem, “Trees,” by Joyce Kilmer honors the beauty, endurance and life of a tree.

Here at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, trees have for more than half a century been a way to honor and preserve the dignity and memory of the installation’s highest military leaders as they leave the base.

A 32nd tree was planted at the Commanding General’s Arboretum in a dedication ceremony Wednesday in honor of Lt. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, former I Corps commanding general.

As a handful of JBLM officials watched, Lanza dug up a shovelful of dirt and placed it at the base of a 3-foot-tall Western red cedar tree, tapping the dirt down to complete the planting.

“I think it’s a great honor to be part of this, with all of these commanding generals,” Lanza said, as he looked around at a grove of tall evergreen trees.

Created in 1958, the Commanding General’s Arboretum and Walking Trail graces the southern side outside the Liberty Gate at Lewis Main. Its first three trees, oaks, replaced three Lawson cypress trees placed at the original memorial, the 1917 Liberty Gate site near the DuPont gate — then the installation’s main gate.

The trees were replaced at the same time the original Camp Lewis stone monument was moved, according to Steven T. Perrenot, director of JBLM’s Directorate of Public Works.

Lanza’s tree has the distinction of being placed beside that of one of JBLM’s most easily recognizable former leaders, Lt. Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf. Schwarzkopf’s tree, a towering Grand fir, was planted in 1987.

A few year’s later, in 1991, the honorary gold “General’s Shovel” was created for the event. The names of each of the retiring or departing generals was added on brass plates to the shovel’s arm.

Lanza thanked DPW officials at the event for their diligence and dedication in maintaining the historic grove of trees.

One of the workers, Carl Adametz, JBLM’s supervisor for grounds, has been at JBLM for 28 years and took part in the planting of the past 13 trees. Adametz said he recalls the planting of trees for each of those distinctive commanding generals.

“It’s always special,” he said.

According to Perrenot, every tree honors a leader whose command contributed to JBLM greatness and fostered links with the local community. The first three trees were planted at the site when the state Department of Transportation dissected the base and cities up and down the state with the creation of Interstate 5, causing the need to move the original monumental gate.

Those trees honored three World War I veterans and Camp Lewis commanders: Major Gen. Charles Muir, Major Gen. Robert Alexander and Major Gen. Joseph D. Leitch.

Other trees in the arboretum are in honor of generals known by deed or name. Schwarzkopf, who served as a brigade commander in the 9th Infantry Division and later as I Corps commander, went on to command U.S. Central Command and led all coalition forces during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Schwarzkopf’s deputy commander, Lt. Gen. Calvin Waller, served as I Corps commander and has his tree planted 50-feet south of Schwarzkopf’s. Another recognizable name is that Major Gen. Louis Truman, the cousin of former U.S. President, Harry Truman.

Also of note is a tree planted by Major Gen. David L. Stone, for which the JBLM Stone Education Center was named.

Stone was captain of the Engineer Corps at the base in 1917 and is credited with designing and having built Camp Lewis. Nearly 20 years later, Stone returned and served as base commander. He is known as the “Father of Fort Lewis” and is buried at the Camp Lewis Cemetery.

Colonel Daniel S. Morgan, JBLM joint base garrison commander, said he was glad to attend Lanza’s tree dedication ceremony. “I’m honored to be part of this and help the long legacy continue on.”

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