An emotional ceremony Friday afternoon as the community dedicated a new Dogwood Park sculpture remembering the 2020 Tornado.
“And it will forever serve as a reminder of how Cookeville and Putnam County came together in a time of tragedy to support, and comfort, and to assist one another,” Wheaton said. “The beautiful sculpture will remember the lives that we lost and also stand to honor and appreciate the first responders, the utility workers, the thousands of volunteers that came together and assisted in the recovery efforts ”
Wheaton said she hoped when community members see the Tree Of Hope we remember we are stronger together. Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter said the hope symbolized in the structure kept him going during the aftermath of the storm.
“I can’t think of anything any better than to have this in the park where everyone will remember those 19 lives that were lost,” Porter said. “I think it also speaks that what a great community we live in. I saw, in the days following after that as you did how our community came together. And we acted one. We took care of those in need. We honored those that were lost. We prayed for those who lost everything that tragic day. And I think speaks highly for our community when we come together today to remember those.
The bronzed structure in the form of a tree was completed entirely in the Upper Cumberland. Artist Brad Sells designed the structure with David Fricke spending more than a year on the bronzing. “When the Robin Comes” features 19 birds in honor of those who died March 3rd . Leadership Putnam’s class of 2022 raised money to build the structure which sits just off Broad Street.
“The tree is a symbol of our community, it’s a symbol of strength,” Sells said. “The roots deeply embedded in soil. I think about being from Cookeville, I think about my kids. And you can leave this community, but you’re still always going to be from Cookeville. The tree is a symbol of shelter and protection. And just seeing what went down after the storm and despite the pain, it brought our community together which is very nice to see. The tree is a symbol of our community.”
Sells said he saw a group of robins near the proposed site on the day organizers first met. He said the robins represent regrowth and the coming of spring….the start of a new chapter.