From an Op-Ed piece sent to media outlets Wednesday morning from Senator John Barrasso's office:
"People around the Cowboy State say we need more Wyoming in Washington. In Washington, folks can always use a reminder of Wyoming values -- honesty, integrity, independence, and a strong work ethic.
This month, Washington has been treated to a beautiful 67-foot-tall symbol of our state. It is Wyoming’s Christmas gift to America.
For the next four weeks, a Christmas tree from the Bridger-Teton National Forest will stand near the steps of the United States Capitol. This is the first time in our nation’s history that our state will have this honor.
Last night was the official tree-lighting ceremony. Daniel Sitter, a student from Lincoln County, flipped the switch to light the tree. Thousands of Americans and hundreds from Wyoming came to Washington for the event.
Thousands more from across our state, though unable to make the trip to Washington, were crucial to making this project a success. It is because of them that this magnificent tree from Wyoming will shine on the Capitol lawn during this Christmas season.
For the past three years, people all around Wyoming committed their time and effort on behalf of this project. From the time the tree was selected in the forest until it was finally lighted in Washington, thousands of residents across our state did all they could do to make it a shining success.
I want to thank the people of Wyoming for this remarkable gift to America. Your efforts brought a lot of smiles to so many people as the tree traveled through Wyoming and ultimately on to Washington.
The tree’s journey around Wyoming was itself historic. The turnout in communities all across the state was remarkable. Children of all ages gathered to celebrate and sign their names on banners that accompanied the tree on its journey.
Thousands of Wyoming residents created over 10,000 ornaments to adorn the tree. Young and old alike did a fantastic job using as much native and recycled material as possible. This season’s Capitol visitors will applaud the work and creativity that is now showcased on the west lawn of the Capitol. Ornaments shaped like boots and cowboy hats, or painted with pictures of wildlife and outdoor scenery truly illustrate the tree’s "Wyoming: Forever West" theme.
This tree is called "The People’s Tree" for a reason. It was selected by you, decorated by you, and privately funded by you. Even the architect of the Capitol -- who every year oversees the Christmas tree event -- declared it one of the finest and best decorated in years.
I would especially like to express my appreciation to the family of Sandra Seaton. She was the Forest Service employee who first identified our "perfect" tree in 2009. She died during open heart surgery last winter. The notes she left behind led Forest Service employees to the secret spot in the Forest. That’s why Wyoming’s tree is now nicknamed "Sandra’s Tree." I would also like to thank all the Forest Service employees who oversaw every step in this process.
While Washington won’t always have such a majestic symbol of Wyoming on the Capitol lawn, you will continue to have a congressional delegation that fights to bring Wyoming to Washington. Thank you for giving us the privilege to represent such a great state and wonderful group of people. Merry Christmas."
John Barrasso is a Republican U.S. senator from Wyoming.