Thursday, April 5, 2012
Arbor Day celebration inspiring
By SUE WATSON
Lauren Massey’s sixth grade class at Marshall Academy joined the Mississippi Forestry Commission and Holly Springs Garden Club this year for an Arbor Day celebration at Montrose.
Two trees were planted in honor and memory of the late Bobby Tubbs and the late Bill York.
Sgt. James Hamblin with the Mississippi Guard, Detachment 1, Company A of the 2-198th Infantry, presented the colors, words of patriotism, and one of 11 American flags flown over Q West Army Base in Iraq in one day – one of two he brought back home from his tour.
“The flag is symbolic that we are all equal and created in our Lord’s image,” he said. “We live in a great country where anyone from any background can achieve anything they want.”
He told sixth graders he saw children younger than they are braving life or death to go to school in Iraq.
“This unit in Holly Springs represents everything that is good about this country,” he said. “The Mississippi Guard (Militia) participated in every battle since 1812 when Andrew Jackson stopped here on his way south.”
In a prayer for nature, Bruce McMillan asked God:
Annie Moffitt sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
George Byrd, with the Mississippi Forestry Commission, reminded children they are “the generation who plants the trees under whose shade future generations shall rest.”
He reviewed the history of Arbor Day, begun in Nebraska by J. Stanley Morton, who moved to the plains state and decided it needed trees.
The first year Arbor Day was celebrated, a million trees were planted in Nebraska. Mississippi held its first Arbor Day in 1892, Byrd said.
Trees are a key agricultural commodity and industry in Mississippi, Byrd said, with 77 percent of timberland in privately owned lands. Mississippi Forestry Commission was established in 1926, and the industry holds the second spot as the state’s largest economy – a $21 billion state industry since 1996. Poultry is the number one agricultural crop.
He played a video of the Survivor Tree – an American elm – that was saved in front of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City following the terrorist attack that claimed 168 lives. The elm survived that blast in the front parking lot and the citizens of Oklahoma rallied around the tree and nurtured it back to health. Its seeds are planted in memory of the spirit of the tree and the citizens of the United States and Oklahoma who refused to be daunted by the horrific event.
“The Survivor Tree is a reminder to never give up on living,” Byrd said. “All creatures in nature have a certain power of spirit. It is one of the best cared-for trees in America.”
The tree sustained loss of foilage and limbs and glass is embedded in its bark which was scorched by the blast. It has become a part of the Oklahoma City memorial and sends a message of hope and healing by its ability to survive and grow beyond the tragedy.
Visitors and the community are invited to visit Montrose Arboretum and to contribute to the upkeep of the antebellum home and grounds, owned by the city and kept up by funds raised and donations to the Holly Springs Garden Club.
Proceeds from the Holly Springs Pilgrimage help maintain the historic home and grounds for each successive generation.
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