This morning, Oatlands reached a milestone as the pilot site for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership’s Living Legacy Project. The first of more than 400 trees have been planted, and the very first dedicated.
The Living Legacy Project seeks to honor America’s Civil War fallen with a series of tree plantings stretching over the 180 mile Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway. In time, each soldier who died will have a tree planted or dedicated in his honor. The color palette for the project is red, with plantings consisting of red maples, scarlet oaks, redbuds, and red twig dogwoods.
The tree plantings fill an important role at Oatlands, contributing to our stewardship of the property and a positive impact on the environment. As a National Trust Historic Site, we are committed to sustainable maintenance of this property.
Fittingly, the first tree was dedicated to honor one of the hundreds of thousands of unknown Civil War dead. It is estimated that nearly half of the 620,000 soldiers who perished on both sides are unknown.
Featured speakers included Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton, National Trust for Historic Preservation President Stephanie Meeks, Journey Through Hallowed Ground President Cate Magennis Wyatt, Oatlands Board Chair Michael J. O’Connor, and Oatlands Executive Director Andrea McGimsey. The Reverend Brown Morton gave the invocation prior to the tree dedication, and Colonel Meg Roosma of the West Point Alumni Glee Club sang Amazing Grace as the tree was dedicated. It was a solemn and moving moment.
It is seemly that the dedication took place this Thanksgiving week. In his proclamation announcing the Thanksgiving holiday in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln invited the nation to set aside “a day for Thanksgiving and Praise”. He asked “the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union”.
Oatlands is proud to be the pilot site for the Living Legacy Project, and proud to echo the words of President Lincoln’s proclamation.