Brundidge celebrates its ‘Liberty Tree’
Published 11:00 pm Monday, August 15, 2011
The Liberty Tree, America’s first symbol of freedom, was honored Monday morning in Brundidge during a ceremony at the newly established Liberty Tree Park on North Main Street.
The ceremony paid tribute to the city’s Liberty Elm and to nearly 1,000 other Liberty Elms that were planted across the country during 2011 through the Liberty Tree Society.
Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage said the ceremony was held, in part, as an obligation of the acceptance of the Liberty Tree but mainly as a tribute to America’s freedom.
The city’s Liberty Elm was planted ceremoniously in February.
“Our city was one of a thousand sites throughout the United States to be invited to be a part of the Liberty Tree program,” Ramage said. “To be invited, someone or some organization has to donate $2,500 to the program. We are honored that someone thought enough of Brundidge, Alabama to make that donation.”
In accepting the invitation to participate in the Liberty Tree program, the city pledged to have an annual event on Aug. 14 honoring the Liberty Elm and what it represents. The city’s first program was held on Monday due to Aug. 14 being on Sunday.
Ramage said the Liberty Elm has a distinguished place in American history.
“Back when our country was trying to shake loose for the strangle-hold that England had on it, there was talk of a tax being placed on tea and the country was greatly opposed to being taxed like that,” Ramage said. “A group of men called the Rebellious Nine, led by Paul Revere and John Hancock, often met under a huge American elm tree in Boston. That tree, the Liberty Tree, became a rallying point for those who opposed the British rule.”
Beneath the sheltering branches of that great American elm, the Boston Tea Party was born. Their flag, the Rebellious Stripes, was often flown from the Liberty Tree during the meetings there. And, it was from that Liberty Tree that King George III was hanged in effigy.
After the ‘hanging” of their king, British soldiers cut down the Liberty Tree and all other American elms around the city.
The American elms were prevalent in the United States until the 1930s and 1940s when they were destroyed by blight caused by Dutch beetles.
Forty-three years ago, the Elm Research Institute began to search for ways to bring back the American elm but first had to develop a tree that would be resistant to Dutch beetles.
When that work was completed, the Institute initiated the Liberty Tree Society with its goal being to plant Liberty Trees all across the country
Britt Thomas, Brundidge city manager, said that the American elm is a slow growing tree that will be a part of the Brundidge community for hundreds of years to come.
“In 100 years, the branches of the elm will shade this park and, in 300 years, the branches will reach the street,” he said.
The city will host a celebration of the Liberty Tree annually on Aug. 14 and is encouraging its citizens to become members of the Liberty Tree Society. The dues are $25 a year and each member will receive a three-foot American elm to plant along with a bronze plaque and a personalized certificate of membership.
For more information, visit the Liberty Tree Society on line at crowdrise.com/libertyelm.