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North Belmont business honors veterans in an unusual way

Jan 16, 2020 10:26AM
By Alan Hodge

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Christmas was a few weeks back, and by now the decorations have been put away and trees both real and artificial discarded or packed up. But that’s not the case for a very special tree at Gaston Used Auto Parts and Recycling Center on Dogwood St. in North Belmont.

The tree in question is actually more of a shrine to local veterans and forms part of a tribute to the U.S. military in the customer service room. What makes it unique is the fact that instead of traditional ornaments, the tree is festooned with around 300 laminated photos of soldiers, sailors, and airmen from Gaston County going all the way back to the Civil War and continuing up to current deployments in the Middle East.

Gaston Used Auto Parts owner Brenda Mooney came up with the concept.

“I cut out pictures from a book and made the ornaments,” she said. “Customers brought some in too.”

Mooney had help from her sister in law Linda Carpenter and niece Robin Hayes in crafting the portraits.

Instead of a star, the tree is topped by a group of electrically powered, swirling angels.

“The angels are looking over the soldiers,” said Mooney.

Other items on the tree include small American flags, stars, and slogans like “Imagine a World Without Heroes”.

Mooney continued the patriotic theme even further with a small table holding a cross, army boots, and a real steel army helmet.

“We got the helmet from some scrap metal that someone brought in,” Mooney said.

Other decorations in the room include a large, red, white, and blue map of America, stars, and stars and stripes wall paint. 

This is the first year for the patriotic Christmas display, but Mooney plans on making it a tradition. This year, it’s not coming down soon, so go by and have a look.

“The tree will stay up until Easter,” she said.