Just more than 149 years to the day after U.S. President Abraham Lincoln recited the Gettysburg Address, The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership’s Living Legacy Project kicked off their tree planting initiative Nov. 20 at Oatlands Plantation, which is a National Trust Historic site.
In total, more than 400 trees will be either dedicated or planted at Oatlands as part of the program.
The Living Legacy Project was launched to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War. The project consists of planting or dedicating a tree for all of the 620,000 soldiers who were killed in the Civil War.
Oatlands was chosen to launch the project because it is at the geographic center of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway, which stretches from Gettysburg, Pa. to Monticello in Charlottesville, Va.
The byway serves as a link to each of the battlefields and connects more than 30 historic communities, which were heavily impacted by the War between the States. It holds the largest concentration of battlefield sites in the country, including the important battles of Harpers Ferry, Manassas, Antietam, Gettysburg and Appomattox, among others.
Journey Board Chairman David Williams, whose family owns property adjacent to Oatlands feels the project helps keep perspective for Americans when it comes to the tragedy of the war.
“We believe this is the time and place to create and implement a living legacy that continues to heal the wounds as it humbles every American with a perspective on the tragedy of the war. Oatlands is to be commended for being the first partner to implement the Living Legacy Project,” Williams said. “This is the heart and soul of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway and these trees will not only improve and unify the landscape along the corridor but are a fitting tribute to the fallen soldiers of America’s Civil War.”
The first tagging of a Living Legacy tree was dedicated to an unknown Civil War Soldier.
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton, an advocate of the project, attended the event and was a keynote speaker.
“The Living Legacy Project is a core element for people to remember here in this country and when you think about the fact this war killed more Americans then all of our country’s wars combined it is so imperative to remember the sacrifices they made to create this country,” Connaughton said. “It is great to see the grants we are providing used to promote tourism, promotes the history of our state and provides an understanding of what happened here.”
Oatlands Board Chair Michael O’Connor noted that while remembering the soldiers who died during the war, the trees will provide a great benefit for the historic site.
“The planting of over 400 trees for the Living Legacy project will reduce our carbon footprint, create a wonderful habit for wildlife, improve air quality, provide shade for our visitors and increase the natural beauty of Oatlands, while honoring the rich history and sacrifice of those who have gone before us,” O’Connor said.
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