It was an emotionally charged, stirring tribute on Tuesday for those who support the Parker County Tree of Angels, as those affected by a violent crime placed a Christmas ornament on the tree. The ornament served as a remembrance of individuals affected by, or lost to, a violent crime.
A good crowd filled the Doss Heritage and Culture Center for the 18th annual Parker County Tree of Angels ceremony and to hear Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) as the guest speaker.
“We have a great criminal justice system, not only in Weatherford but across Texas,” King said. “They do a good job chasing down criminals, prosecuting and incarcerating them. That’s what the governments job is, to provide for the public safety.”
King said what is not done well is something that government can’t do, which is to deal with the aftermath of the crime.
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“You really never deal with the family because there is nothing you can do in the criminal justice system,” King said. “Once the crime is committed and the perpetrator is arrested, convicted and off to jail, that part is taken care of. But, the harm they did has just begun."
He said very often, the harm caused goes on for "weeks, months, years - sometimes forever."
“It’s because that harm was something done to them personally,” King said. “The only thing that can fix it that is God, family and community.
"We’re really here tonight as community, as family, and in the presence of God to say we love you and we want you to know how much.”
Catherine A. Teitjen, executive director of Freedom House of Parker County, whose mission is to seek to end abuse and violence through prevention and intervention, agreed and encouraged those in attendance to spend the Christmas season “showing people how to love.”
Tree of Angels History
In 1991, the Tree of Angels began in Austin, to recognize that the holiday season is a difficult time for victims and their families. This special event, the first week in December, honors surviving victims of violent crime and victims' families by making it possible for loved ones to bring an Angel to place on a special Christmas tree.
In March of 2000, the United States Patent and Trademark Office registered the Tree of Angels and in November of 2000, former Governor George W. Bush, proclaimed Dec. 4 - Dec. 10 as Tree of Angels Week in Texas.