NC mask tree pays tribute to health care workers


RALEIGH, N.C. (WRAL) – Face masks have become a symbol of 2020, and they aren’t that much fun to wear. However, health care workers have them on for many hours at a time, day after day.

Del Wehner is a radiologic technologist and is constantly wearing a mask for her job at North Carolina’s Duke University Hospital.

“Every day, we’re wearing our masks. And when I’d come home at night, I could not part with my mask whatsoever,” she says.

She saved every mask she’s worn at work since the pandemic took hold; washed them all; then used them to decorated a cedar tree she planted outside her Raleigh home.

To Wehner, the mask-donned-tree is “overwhelmingly powerful.”

“It represents all of us in health care – what we’ve been going through in fighting this virus, so we could still be there for all of our patients and take care of all of our patients,” she says.

Wehner’s neighbors think the tree is powerful too. Isaac Johnson is among them.

“We just think it’s a wonderful way to raise awareness for wearing masks,” said Johnson. “If she can do it for that many hours a week, the rest of us can do it a few times a day.”

Wehner said that one reason she kept the masks was because of their sentimental value.

“They were very personal. They meant a lot,” she said. Her masks were her trusted companions.

With every hour of every long day, they protected her patients, and herself. Now they hang like heirloom ornaments on a tree that stands as a testimonial.

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