Lawrence County Museum Tree preserves memory of lives lost to COVID

BEDFORD – A tree is housed at the Lawrence County History Museum to preserve the memories of every Lawrence County resident who has lost their life to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tree is updated weekly with a bell attached to a yellow ribbon to reflect the last week’s death count.

Located in the museum’s gallery showcase, the aptly named Yellow Ribbon Memory Tree stands in remembrance of the emotional and economic devastation caused by the pandemic. He has been there since early December.

How the tree was born

Museum president Rowena Cross Najafi said the idea behind the tree stemmed from conversations she had with gallery coordinator Becky Buher. They wanted to find a way to commemorate the lives that have been tragically lost due to the pandemic.

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“Becky had this idea,” Najafi said. “It was perfect. For every person we lost, there was a little bell and a yellow ribbon added to the tree. So one of the things we started talking about is how to recognize and present that period of history, which is really important.”

Buher shared some of the details that inspired his idea.

“Tony Orlando and Dawn’s 1970s hit song ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree’ kept coming to mind, as did the 1946 movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ In the film, every time a bell rings, an angel takes its wings. Combining these two thoughts, a bell is tied with a bow of yellow ribbon for each person in Lawrence County who died during this historic pandemic.

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Chronicle the story as it happens

Najafi said the Lawrence County History Museum is poised to continue recording significant moments throughout the pandemic to record the history of the pandemic from a local perspective.

“I’m a historian by nature. I record stuff, that’s what we do. It’s not just about going back to 1900 and seeing what they did,” Najafi said. “This is our time and one day this will be history. This is what we also want everyone to understand. We are writing history for the next generation, and generations after. So what we record and what we don’t record is really, really important. Of course, this period is very well documented nationally and internationally, but it’s our job to document it locally. So that’s what we do.

Lawrence County reported 653 cases and two deaths last week. The previous week, it had reported 497 cases and nine deaths. In total, the county has had 10,308 confirmed cases and 221 deaths.

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The Memory Tree serves as an important reminder of the lives that have been lost to the disease that causes COVID-19. Each yellow ribbon and bell represents a lost life, someone who was dear to family members and friends, as well as valued members of their community.

“We never wanted to look at this pandemic as a pandemic of numbers. It’s a pandemic of people,” Najafi said. “As that number increases, it becomes more difficult to find a place on the tree to put another bell. In a way, it’s so much more powerful than just a number. These people are our people, people we love and care about. who has helped us in so many ways. We have lost museum volunteers because of this and everyone knows someone who is no longer there because of this disease.

Najafi said the tree will remain standing as long as COVID-19 spreads throughout the county and the nation.

The memory tree does not display any names. Instead, a bell and ribbon represent each anonymous individual.

“There are no names because it’s up to everyone to decide for themselves. I think without the names the extent of the loss is so much more apparent. Every time I go there and I see the numbers going up, although I can do the same on the state website, it’s a whole different experience.”

The tree serves as a lasting reminder of the hardships the pandemic has brought over the past two years. Meanwhile, Buher said several citizens appreciated the display and what it means.

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“It’s sort of a reality check on how the COVID-19 virus is permanently affecting our community,” she said. “When people see the tree, it is quite surprising to see the large number of bells and ribbons and to realize that each one represents a fellow citizen. Several people have told us that they appreciate the memory tree , valued what it represents and what has been lost.”

Looking forward

The Tree of Memory is currently the museum’s only exhibit dedicated to the ongoing pandemic. However, Buher said it is expected that more COVID-related stories will be documented and shared with the community at some point in the future.

“We would like to collect stories of how the pandemic has affected people – real stories of the precious lives lost, as well as survivors and even people who have not contracted the virus, how it has affected their lives “Buher said. “That way, in the future, this destructive virus and the people it has affected will not be anonymous or lost to history. If you have a related local story that you would be willing to share, please write it down. and send it to the museum.”

The address of the museum is 929 15th St. The museum can also be reached at 812-278-8575.

This article originally appeared on The Times-Mail: Lawrence County Museum Tree preserves memory of lives lost to COIVD

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