A Moving Tradition Continued at The Nation's Christmas Tree

The annual ceremony, which takes place at the General Grant tree in Kings Canyon National Park, was altered in 2020, but the meaning remained.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

EXPERIENCING THE GENERAL GRANT... in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for the first, fifth, or fiftieth time? It's a moment that will fill your memory instantly, and make your mind feel bigger, and your heart even bigger than your mind for a magical moment. For the ancient sequoia, a specimen that is not only stately but is also one of the largest living things on the planet, has a way of prompting visitors to reflect on issues of a deep, eternal, and important nature. That reflection grows on the second Sunday of December each year when people make the "Trek to the Tree," where they may pay their respects to "... those who have died in service to our country." Beautiful singing, poignant speeches, and silent contemplation are part of the happening.

THE TREK WAS CANCELED... in 2020, given the circumstances of the pandemic and safety considerations. But while trekkers were not present this year, veteran park employees did stop by the celebrated Kings Canyon Park tree on Dec. 13, all to place a wreath near the General Grant. The national parks team shared a moving photo of a ranger and the wreath, as well as the fact that the General Grant is the "... only living shrine dedicated to those who have fought and died in service to this country."

PRESIDENT CALVIN COOLIDGE... declared the General Grant to be "The Nation's Christmas Tree" around 94 years ago, meaning its centennial is on the horizon (of course, the gargantuan, centuries-spanning tree is far older than the lovely and noble designation it received in 1926). You can read more about the intimate and meaningful 2020 wreath-placing at the Sequoia and Kings Canyon Parks Facebook page now.

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