In its continuing effort to appropriately commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership will host a Living Legacy Tree Planting Project ceremony, scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 29th at 2:30 p.m., at Oatlands Historic House and Gardens in Leesburg, Virginia. We are thrilled that the The Commandant’s Own, the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and the official Color Guard of the Marine Corps will be participating in the ceremony. The 60 members of this prestigious military group will perform as part of the ceremony, which is free and open to the public.
The United States Marine Corps Drum & Bugle Corps and the Official Color Guard of the Marine Corps are part of the Marine Corps Detachment attached to Marine Barracks Washington, also known as the “Oldest Post of the Corps.” These Marines have agreed to participate in the June 29th Ceremony to honor the over 500 fallen Civil War soldiers who will be commemorated with newly planted and dedicated trees along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway, Rt. 15. The Marine Corps Color Guard carries the official Battle Colors of the Marine Corps. The 54 streamers and silver bands displayed on the battle colors commemorate the military campaigns in which Marines have participated. They span the entire history of the nation, from the American Revolution to the present.
The June 29th Living Legacy Tree Project Planting Ceremony is scheduled the week of Independence Day and serves as a reminder to us of the sacrifice made by generations before. This planting is part of the Living Legacy Tree Planting project, a sweeping and ambitious effort to plant or dedicate a tree for each of the more than 620,000 soldiers who died during the American Civil War and was launched by the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership to create an appropriate legacy for the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Each tree is geotagged to share the name of the soldier, where he was born, where he died and include the story of the soldier’s life.
These particular trees are being planted adjacent to Oatlands’ property along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground (JTHG) National Scenic Byway, which was designated by Congress as the 99th scenic byway in the country. Oatlands is at the geographical center of the JTHG National Scenic Byway, is one of two National Trust for Historic Preservation sites within the corridor, and served as the site for the inaugural Living Legacy Tree Planting Project.
In addition to the musical interlude, remarks will be given by JTHG Partnership President Cate Magennis Wyatt, Ancestry.com Senior Executive Brock Bierman, and local elected officials. Students who have been researching the stories of the fallen soldiers will also be on hand to dedicate the trees that day. Oatlands will be offering free admission to the mansion for anyone attending the ceremony, and welcomes visitors to join the opening of their Annual Art Show with a reception beginning at 5:30 in the Carriage House.
This will be the seventh planting ceremony, each one of which recognizes the individuals for whom the tree is planted. Previous tree plantings have taken place in Leesburg, Virginia, Williamsport, Maryland, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and have included such dignitaries as National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, National Trust for Historic Preservation President & CEO Stephanie Meeks, former Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton, and others. “This is one of the most beautiful and inspiring ideas I have ever seen – this notion of planting a living tree for each person that fell in the Civil War,” Meeks said.
As plantings continue, the Living Legacy Tree Project will eventually stretch along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway, a 180-mile swath of land that runs from Gettysburg, PA to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, VA. The JTHG National Scenic Byway, which crosses the Mason Dixon Line, serves as a link to each of the battlefields and connects over 30 historic communities, each of which was gravely impacted by the Civil War. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area holds the largest concentration of Civil War battlefield sites in the country, including the beginning of the War (Harpers Ferry and Manassas), the middle (Antietam and Gettysburg) and the end, (Appomattox).
The Living Legacy Project will create a unified color palette that reminds visitors that they are, indeed, on hallowed ground. Upon completion, this initiative will create the first 180 mile landscaped allee in the world and the only allee dedicated to honoring the most defining moment in American history. A signature palette of seasonal trees and plantings, including redbuds, red oaks, red maple, and red cedar have been selected to represent the courage and valor of the individuals being honored with this project. A secondary palette, including canopy and understory trees, evergreens, shrubs, and ground coverings, will also feature red as a predominant color, with plantings including black gum trees, sassafras, and winterberry. The native selection is appropriate to the diverse landscapes along this historic corridor, and remains sensitive to the local ecology, scenic views, and development patterns. “The Living Legacy Tree Project touched me when I read about it in USA Today, such a noble tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Michael A. Dirr, Ph.D, a horticulturist, author, and one of the leading experts on horticulture. “How could anyone not want to contribute to such a movement? 620,000 trees may seem daunting but the cause is worthy and achievable.”
It’s amazing the support we have received to accomplish this particular planting. Without companies like Ancestry.com, Asplundh Tree Co, Capital Party Rentals, Clem’s Garage, Design Build Construction, Dominion, Don’s Johns, Enterprise, ESRI, Hart Tree Preservation, Jackson Nursery, Lee Highway Nursery, Lowe Products Company, Inc., Oatlands Historic House & Gardens, Poly Processing, Ratcliff Masonry, Ryder, Saunders Nursery, Virginia News Group, Winchester Equipment, and others, this planting wouldn’t be taking place. This is something everyone can get behind. Therefor, we hope other businesses, schools, community groups, and individuals will contribute to this project. In addition, the JTHG Partnership is seeking $100 contributions to support and plant each tree. Donors may select a soldier to honor, as the trees will be geo-tagged to allow Smart Phone users to learn the story of the soldier, providing a strong educational component to engage interest in the region’s historical heritage and literally bringing the tree to life. For more information, check out the Living Legacy Project’s dedicated website at www.hallowedgroundtrees.org.