Independence Hall Tree Planting Ceremony

Written by: Denise Doring VanBuren, First Vice President General
November 16, 2017

Few experiences of my life have been as thrilling as representing our National Society in the ceremony staged by the National Park Service at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia to celebrate the planting of the first two of what will be 76 trees donated by the DAR to the park to commemorate our nation’s approaching 250th birthday. President General Ann Dillon and America 250! Committee Chair Lynn Forney Young presented the funding in June at Continental Congress and last week’s tree-planting ceremony was the official acceptance.

View photos from the tree planting ceremony

Despite a steady rain, a crowd of excited supporters and reporters gathered in the shadow of Independence Hall for the November 7 event, as representatives of the National Park Service, USA 250, the city of Philadelphia and even Thomas Jefferson helped to celebrate the DAR’s  commitment to the project – the first major initiative in the entire United States to prepare for the coming Semiquincentennial.

See media coverage of the tree planting ceremony

It is altogether fitting that we should launch this celebration in Philadelphia  – because, like those of a stately shade tree, our roots run deep at Independence Hall. After America’s Centennial, the Philadelphia DAR Chapter received permission to restore the Banquet Room to its 1776 appearance using Andrew Hamilton’s original plans.   It is little wonder that when America  approached its Bicentennial, that our thoughts again turned to Philadelphia.

In 1972, DAR funded the complete furnishing of both the Governor’s Council Chamber and the Committee of the Assembly Chamber. Following the ribbon cutting on July 4, more than 26,000 visitors viewed the spaces, which were re-opened for the first time in 22 years.  DAR also provided funding for the nearby Rose Garden, and a decade later, DAR presented the painting, The Signing of the Constitution, a gift commissioned to commemorate the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution in 1987.  

The donation of the 76 trees in honor of the Spirit of 1776 also sustains DAR’s long commitment to America’s natural resources. In 1919, Daughters planted trees to honor "the heroic dead of the Great War" with "a new form of monument—the memorial that lives.”  In 1926, we pledged to save one nationally historic tree each year; and also in 1926, DAR State Regents from the 13 original colonies donated trees to Independence Park to mark the nation’s 150th birthday.

With the 250th anniversary less than a decade away, we are providing support to plant and maintain 76 new trees in a tribute to the revolutionary Spirit of 1776. It is our hope that, like liberty, they will take root and flourish in the years to come; that they will become living memorials to the men and women who achieved American independence – and to the generations of Americans who have since preserved and protected our liberties.

The elm tree that stood near Boston Common, under which defiant Patriots rallied to express their discontent, inspired similar “Liberty Trees” in hundreds of towns in every colony. The Boston Liberty Tree was immortalized in a poem by Thomas Paine, a verse first published in 1775 in the Philadelphia Gazette. The stanzas celebrate the tree’s symbolic importance to all Americans, particularly the common man:

Unmindful of names or distinctions they came,
For freemen like brothers agree,
With one spirit endued, they one friendship pursued,
And their temple was the Liberty Tree…

The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution is grateful for this opportunity to plant modern-day Liberty Trees that will take root and flourish by 2026. We know that like our nation, they will weather storms, survive droughts, and reach forever upward; like our people, they will branch out and grow stronger with the passage of time; and like our hard-won freedoms, they will shelter and protect us and our posterity for centuries to come. 



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