BELTON — The holidays can be trying times when loved ones have been taken.
Honoring victims of violent crime with an angel ornament is one way for the living to deal with the pain of loss during the holidays. The Bell County Expo Center was the setting Nov. 27 for the annual Tree of Angels ceremony.
District Attorney Henry Garza spoke to families from Bell and Coryell counties who gathered for the ceremony, which featured a posting of the colors from the Belton High School Marine Corps JROTC color guard as well as songs, an invocation and speeches of encouragement.
Many organizations share in the army of comfort and support that is the Bell/Coryell County Crime Victims Coalition, said Lisa Hatfield, the crime victims liason with the Killeen Police Department.
During the ceremony, a video presentation with musical accompaniment played as families and friends filed row by row in a solemn procession to place their angel ornaments on the trees, and a song of remembrance was written and performed by Jillian Howell.
Following the procession, candles were given to each person to hold in remembrance of victims by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. A moment of silence was observed in tribute.
“The Bell-Coryell County Tree of Angels tradition began in 2004 and we were known as the Bell County Crime Victim Coalition,” Hatfield said.
“As time has passed, we have included Coryell County, changing the name to the Bell-Coryell County Crime Victim Coalition,” Hatfield said. “The first tree was donated in 2004 by the Central Texas Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 29 in honor of Detective Lila Price. Each year, the tree is dedicated in her honor as her family members place Lila’s angel on the top of the tree.”
In 2012, a second tree was donated by Rosa Reed.
The trees are displayed at the Bell County Expo Center throughout the holidays.
Following the new year, coalition members store the trees and ornaments until the next year’s ceremony.