By MATT PIKE
St. Joseph Post
On the north side of the Buchanan County Courthouse a tree has been lit as part of an annual tradition, honoring families of those lost to crime.
The tree lighting ceremony has been held annually for the past 25 years by the Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
Victim Advocate with the office Siobahn Jackson says the tree has always been a symbol to honor those taken to soon by crime.
"You'll see the majority of them are going to be homicide victims that are on the tree," Jackson tells reporters following the lighting event. "So, a lot of these families we've had contact through our office with, and we've worked with, and become close to them, so this has just been our offices way of just acknowledging them, remembering them."
Jackson says even if families affected by crime weren't able to attend, they can still come and add an ornament to the tree, whether it be a picture or just the name of a victim.
"It's just whatever your heart leads you to make, or to buy, or if it reminds you of your loved one, put it on the tree," Jackson explains. "You know, it's a memorial to your loved one so it's your choice."
The tree will be lit and decorated through the end of the year. At the end of the year residents can come take their ornament home, or they will be stored at the prosecuting attorney's office until next year.
Jackson says there hasn't been a year where the prosecuting attorney's office has not added to the tree, because crime continues to grow.
"I think we just need to do better with resources and acknowledging when families are struggling, or people are struggling, or drug issues," Jackson says. "There's just so much that we need that we don't have and we need more people to step up and be willing to help."