National Infantry Museum Tree offers messages to wounded warriors

The ornament is in the shape of a reindeer's head. "I'm going to be in the Army just like you and fight for freedom," reads its unsigned message.

It is one of many notes left by visitors to the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center on a Christmas tree in the museum's grand hall.

The messages hanging from the "Freedom Tree," are just another way to say thank you to the soldiers, said Cyndy Cerbin, the National Infantry Foundation's director of communications.

"Some are from family and others are just from people who want to show their appreciation," Cerbin said. "Honoring those who serve our country is what this place is all about."

The tree will be up until Jan. 2. The materials for leaving a note are on a table nearby. Cerbin said the notes are being sent to wounded warriors -- soldiers, most of them amputees, in U.S. hospitals.

Some messages are simple. "Stay Low," wrote Bella.

Some are more personal.

"Thanks Brother Joshua Galarza for serving our country. I love you a lot and I miss you lots. Keep on going and don't stop," writes Coralys Torres.

"In honor of my brother who served in the U.S. Air Force only 2 die in Germany from a brain tumor. I love U and will always remember U. John Luther Inman. Love from your Big Sis," is another message.

"In honor of my son Taylor Warren. I pray God always brings him home to his loved ones. Love ya mom," dangles from a limb.

Right next to it is a note, "I love my soldier, my hero and a brave daddy to his kids of 3!"

The message from Asia T. reads, "God stands with him through it all. I am only 1 year old but I have a daddy who fights for me. He overcomes what stands in his way but I can surely say he makes sure he comes home to me. He is my daddy, the strong and brave."

Some messages honor those who have served.

"Thanks to Bevis O. Denby WWII (91), Herman Spooner Vietnam (64). Merry Christmas," says one note, while another reads, "You are not forgotten. God bless you and Merry Christmas. The Putnam family, serving WW1, WWII, Vietnam and Iraq."

Sixth graders from Drake Middle School in Auburn, Ala., toured the museum last week.

Some took the time to leave a message.

"Thank you for serving our country. I hope you get to return home this Christmas and see your family. Merry Christmas," wrote 11-year-old Caiden Taft.

"It really felt good to do this," Caiden said after finishing his note. "Going through this museum, I got a better understanding of just what freedom is all about, the sacrifices some have made."

"Thank you for serving our country," wrote 12-year-old Deanna Clarke.

"Seeing all of this makes me appreciate more what I have," Deanna said.

The two students took time to examine other notes left amid American flags.

One note that echoed their sentiments was from Erika V., wishing the soldiers a happy holiday.

"Thank you for serving our country and giving me the freedom I so often take for granted."