Let Liberty Ring
While many are dusting off their artificial Christmas tree and placing the spider infested contraption in the traditional place of prominence, others are heading to a crowded parking lot occupied by their favorite local civic organization selling trees shipped in from who knows where. The more fortunate will be keeping with tradition and traipsing into the woods and choosing the perfect conifer suitable to be adorned with all of those ornaments brought home by the kids during their elementary school days, at least the ones that weren’t edible and still have a remnant of glitter clinging to the, now fragile and faded, construction paper. I’m one of the lucky few. I’ll be headed to the farm to harvest a perfect tree—one I’ve been watching all year. But this story is about a different kind of tree.
Last year I wrote about the origin of Santa, and my intention for this year’s Christmas letter was to write about the origin of the Christmas tree. That story must wait—rather than the legend surrounding the demise of a tree, the following is the story of a tree that lives and offers promise.
Each of us has a responsibility to contribute to America’s future. And we need to be vigilant to opportunities most appropriate to do so. Through an amazing and providential connection, Crader Distributing was chosen to be the recipient of seedlings grafted from the last standing Liberty Tree. We gifted most of the seedlings to 4H groups throughout Missouri. Each group then planted their Liberty Tree seedling in a prominent spot in their community. One special seedling was retained for personal use.
The Liberty Tree seedlings have a remarkable history. The first Liberty Tree was identified in 1765 by the Sons of Liberty in Boston in the context of their protest against the Stamp Act. As tensions mounted in the years leading to the declaration of American Independence in 1776, the practice of gathering support for the American cause around a large tree in urban centers began to spread throughout the colonies. One by one, through the years, these ancient trees have passed away.
The last standing Revolutionary era Liberty Tree, a Tulip Poplar estimated to be up to 800 years old when it died, was in Annapolis, Maryland and was felled in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Under this tree in 1776, the Maryland Sons of Liberty read the Declaration of Independence. From the seeds that were harvested from that venerable tree in 1999, only fourteen took root. From these surviving trees, a bud grafting program began. And the Liberty Tree seedling program is under way.
By the process of bud-grafting, each continues the exact life of one of the fourteen Liberty Tree Seedlings. Thus it is possible to preserve a living testimony to our American founding history. Each tree is nothing less than an authentic offspring of the last Liberty Tree.
Featured in the photo is yours truly and two grandsons, Wyatt and Levi, who helped plant the Liberty Tree seedling at the Crader farm. In the years to come, from time to time, they will gather under its branches and share with their offspring the significance of the tree and how it represents the Sons and Daughters of Liberty that first gathered in Boston in 1765 in their quest for a free land. And similar conversations will occur throughout Missouri.
A Liberty Tree planting is schedule for Missouri’s capitol on Arbor Day 2017.
Every year each tree will add a new ring. And perhaps, under the ever-expanding branches, the Declaration of Independence will occasionally be recited as a reminder to all of how our Fore-Fathers and Founders boldly and enthusiastically declared that “we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”! And so for years and generations to come, as the trees continues to ring so might liberty.
Christmas is the celebration of God’s gift to the world, Jesus Christ. Just as Christ brought hope and promise to the world, the liberty trees bring hope and promise to a nation.