From the road and in the distance the sight looked like a big tree getting a group hug.
As traffic edged forward on Humphrey Street the sight across from Newman's Bakery heaved into focus.
The group appeared to be a family — mom, dad and two kids.
The daughter stood on a step ladder and held a wrapped yellow ribbon around the broad maple trunk while her father stood on tippy toes and stapled it.
Mom Sharon Morris stood back and eyed it for levelness before she took up a hammer and fastened the bow.
Sharon, Ben, and their children, Felicia, 12, and Kegan, 10, have been living in town since July, renting the home that looks out on the tree.
They were hanging the ribbon and bow Sunday morning to remember soldiers.
Sharon got the idea after watching a Today Show.
Ann Curry was interviewing soldiers in Afghanistan. One of them told her he wondered if people at home had forgotten about them.
"We haven't forgotten," said Sharon, "or the reason why they are there."
The soldiers in Afghanistan are fighting and dying for us, she said.
Some are coming home without limbs or any debriefing or help after crawling around caves in life and death situations, she said.
Her husband, a Coast Guard chief warrant officer, said he thought it was about time the soldiers came home.
The kids, students in Swampscott, were having fun with the ribbon hanging.
"It's really cool," said Felicia after her mother straightened the bow on the ribbon.
People walking by asked her what she was doing and she explained the yellow ribbon is to remember the soldiers.
She seemed surprised people didn't know about the symbol.
"People use to know what it meant," she said.
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