Sat, 10/03/2015 - 22:57 -- mbowenLynden Transport Driver John Schank, who received a letter of commendation for 37 years of accident-free driving over one of the most treacherous roads in America, the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay, will have a special assignment this year.
He will be taking a Christmas tree to Washington, D. C.
The 2014 Alaska Truck Driver of the Year will haul an evergreen from the Chugach National Forest that will serve as the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, the first time a tree from Alaska has had the honor, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Thousands of ornaments for "the People's Tree" and smaller trees in government offices in Washington, D.C., will be made by schoolchildren around Alaska.
Senator Lisa Murkowski took to Twitter to share the news and was quoted in the Forest Service's press release as saying, "Countless Alaskans have cut down their own Christmas tree(s) from the Chugach over the years, and I'm glad that the U.S. Capitol is following suit. ... This is truly a well-deserved recognition for Alaskans to be proud of."
The tradition of placing a Christmas tree on the west lawn of the Capitol during the holiday season began in 1964, and since 1970, a different national forest has been selected to provide the tree each year. The 2014 tree came from Minnesota's Chippewa National Forest and made appearances all over Minnesota and the Midwest before arriving in Washington. The Forest Service said it will work with Senator Murkowski to schedule "events and community collaboration across Alaska."
Schank began driving for Lynden Transport in 1975 delivering essential supplies and materials for the Alaska pipeline construction. He has the highest number of miles on the Dalton Highway of any driver in history. He began his 37-year career with Lynden driving the Dalton haul road and continues that route today.
Did you know the history of the Christmas tree began long before the birth of Christ, and even before the pyramids in Egypt?
We have to look back to a time when agricultural based societies were popping up all over the globe. Their beliefs were much different from modern times and they used evergreen in their homes to keep evil spirits and illness away. It just so happen that people would bring the evergreen branches into their homes on the shortest day of the year (winter solstice) which is right around Christmas time.
As things became more civilized and people began having fireplaces in their homes they placed evergreen boughs around the mantel and fireplace to stop spirits from entering their homes through the chimney. Going back to Egyptian times, they had a similar ritual of bringing palm fronds into their homes to keep them safe from Ra the Sun God.
The Romans got into the act as well decorating their homes with evergreen boughs to celebrate Saturnalia which was a celebration to honor Saturn the god of agriculture. It wasn’t until the 12th century when whole evergreen trees were brought indoors, but it was not like today, they hung the trees upside down from the ceiling with little decoration. Since Christianity was not as prevalent as it is today it is said that hanging upside down was said to satisfy the beliefs of both pagans and Christians.
Fast forward to the 16th century and the Germans started to decorate wooden pyramids in their homes with evergreen boughs and candles, and for some crazy reason, pickles. That must be where the hanging of food on the tree started. The pyramid shaped object was believed to be a way to depict the Holy Trinity with the three points of the triangle.
It wasn’t until the mid 1800s before the right side up Christmas started to become popular and Christmas trees were rarely seen in America until around 1840. As more and more German and Irish immigrants came to America, Christmas trees became much more popular. It also helped that Queen Victoria decided to have a Christmas tree displayed during her reign over the United Kingdom.
As we all know this practice continues today. Different cultures have different ways of decorating their Christmas trees. The Europeans tend to be a bit more reserved in their decorations versus the more over the top Americans.
However you like to decorate your tree doesn’t matter as long as you as you buy a real tree from “Minnesota” Bob Smith.
For a certain number of folks around here, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a tree from Minnesota Bob...
Bob Smith is his name, and he's been selling trees up here to many of the same families for years, and in some cases, generations. Since 1962.
About 100 area residents are so hooked on his trees, they don't bother picking their own anymore. Smith knows what they like. He hand-picks them from his Christmas tree farm in Mora, Minn., wraps them in bailing twine, puts their names on them and ships them up along with the rest of his inventory. These special-order customers drop by for their annual visits with Smith and his son, David, strap their trees atop their vehicles and off they go.
Proposing at a Christmas tree farm is far from the norm, but what a great way to start a "family tradition".