NEWBERRY — Newberry Middle School was designated as a Liberty Tree Memorial site by the Liberty Tree Society and was made official by the City of Newberry last week on Arbor Day, Dec. 6.
The gift was made possible by a grant from the Armstrong Foundation through Elm Research Institute (ERI) located in New Hampshire.
Kelli Farmer, principal at Newberry Middle School, said she was grateful their school was chosen as the site of a Liberty Tree Memorial.
“We’re always looking forward to the opportunity to work with the community and to do something with history. This was a great opportunity for us,” Farmer said.
The City of Newberry performed the ceremony in collaboration with Arbor Day last week. Andrew Corbett and Paketrice Jones’ history classes from NMS were present as a part of the ceremony.
Norm Pigeon with the Sons of the American Revolution, Mildred Tyler with the Daughters of the American Revolution, and Dena Jacob with the State Forestry Commission were also present at the ceremony.
Mayor Foster Senn began the ceremony by asking the history classes about the benefits of trees. Farmer said that the beautification club at the school would taking on the task of taking care of the tree as their project.
Newberry Memorial Gardens donated a granite slab that is now located in front of the Liberty Tree, which has a plate describing the history of the memorial, along with its purpose.
“We enjoy partnering each year with the Newberry County School District on the Arbor Day program,” said assistant city manager Matt DeWitt. “The program this year is very special as it will not only create a legacy for others to enjoy, in regards to the tree’s planting, but it will also preserve a piece of our Nation’s history which is a legacy from which we have all come.”
The tradition of a Liberty Tree Memorial began as early as 1646, as colonists celebrated the planting of shade trees. Their favorite was the American Elm, native to their new country.
Boston’s famous Liberty Tree was planted in 1646, about 25 years after the landing at Plymouth Rock. By the time of the Revolution, it was over 100 feet tall and had become popular as a rallying post against George III and served as a meeting place for the “Sons of Liberty.”
In an act of revenge, the British troops cut down the “Liberty Tree” in August of 1775. Reflecting on that moment, General Lafayette said, “The world should never forget the spot where once stood the Liberty Tree, so famous in your annals.”
The Liberty Tree Society, sponsored by ERI, is the promoter of the Liberty Tree Memorial project.
To bring this first symbol of Freedom to Americans everywhere the Institute has established the Liberty Tree Society with a four-fold mission: First to fulfill the goal of Governor Peabody by establishing August 14 as Liberty Tree Day, not just in Massachusetts, but in all 50 states; second, to dedicate Liberty Tree Memorials in 1000 communities; third to tell the exciting story of the Liberty Tree in classrooms across the land; and fourth, to continue the “Re-Elming” of America by planting disease-resistant American Liberty Elms in public spaces nationwide.
Elyssa Parnell can be reached at 803-276-0625, ext. 108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.