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Fallen Heroes Tree of Honor returns to Central Illinois Regional Airport for the holidays

Central Illinois Regional Airport has lit the Fallen Heroes Tree of Honor to honor hundreds of soldiers who have died in combat.

The airport partnered with America’s Gold Star Families and the Sgt. Anthony Maddox Memorial. Maddox was a Bloomington native who died in Afghanistan in 2013.

The tree is 9 feet tall and features over 300 ornaments to honor fallen service members. The ornaments contain the name, rank, birth and death dates, home state, and military branch served in, as well as the conflict that took their life.

Many conflicts are represented, as is every branch of the armed forces, and over 40 states.

Gold Star families present at the ceremony hung the ornament of their loved one while their names are called out and honored.

Fallen Heroes trees were lit at the Decatur Civic Center on Wednesday and at CIRA on Thursday. Another tree lighting was planned for Saturday morning at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

All of the memorial trees will be accessible to the public through the end of the holiday season.

Fran Strebing at CIRA
The tree-lighting ceremony for the Fallen Heroes Tree of Honor at Central Illinois Regional Airport on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
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Erik Dedo is a reporting and audio production intern at WGLT. He joined the station in 2022.
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