- Associated Press - Saturday, December 20, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The two Christmas trees outside State Auditor Samantha Shaw’s office don’t look like any others in the state Capitol.

They are decorated with the names of hundreds of Alabamians who have served in the military. The names are on red, white and blue stars, tags and place cards.

“Being the mother of an Army captain who has served three overseas tours since 2008, the military is very near and dear to my heart,” Shaw said in a phone interview.

Shaw is wrapping up her second term as auditor and will leave public office in January.

She said she put up a Christmas tree outside her office a year ago that was adorned with ornaments recognizing the different branches of the military and with state and national flags. Someone donated an ornament for the tree that had the name of a service member on it, and Shaw decided to expand on that this year. She sent word through a publication for state employees and contacted military support groups about getting the names of present and former military from Alabama.

Soon she was getting hundreds of names from across the state. Twenty-five more came in Friday.

Shaw said she filled up her original tree and added another. Then it got full, and she started putting names on the wreath on her office door. She said she will keep adding names until the Capitol closes on Christmas Eve. She calls the holiday display “Honoring Our Own Real Alabama Heroes.”

If visitors to the Capitol look closely at the trees, they will find one name that makes the auditor proud: Capt. Gregory Shaw.

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