Scott Young, Staff Writer
Community leaders and Jacksonville residents gathered in front of JSU’s International House last Thursday to celebrate Arbor Day.
The overcast skies and windy weather overshadowed the event with a solemn reminder of the devastating March 19 tornadoes which destroyed “over 2,000 trees”, per President John Beehler.
“Trees are so important to our environment and to our well-being and to the beauty of our campus,” said President Beehler. “I think this is a very special day for us because in our rebuilding phase, we want to rebuild our trees on campus.”
Jacksonville City Administrator Albertha Grant read the mayor’s proclamation to have Arbor Day celebrated on February 21 by Jacksonville State University. The proclamation was signed by the mayor of Jacksonville on February 11, 2019 during a meeting of the city council. Many other city mayors across the United States have adopted this proclamation and designated an Arbor Day for their city.
“I urge all students, faculty, and citizens to celebrate Arbor Day and to support efforts to protect our trees and woodlands and urge all students, faculty, and citizens to plant trees to gladden the hearts and promote the well-being of this and future generations,” said Mayor Johnny L. Smith in his Arbor Day proclamation.
Dr. Tim H. Lindblom, the dean of the School of Science, delivered remarks on ‘trees in our emotional landscape’. Dr. Lindblom moved beyond the obvious natural benefits of trees to discuss how trees are more than just inanimate objects that provide us oxygen. He further discusses how the couple that built his home stopped by after the tornadoes to mourn the loss of the two trees in his front yard.
“I would suggest that our anguish over the loss of the trees comes from a deeper place in our hearts than the simple practicality of replacing them,” said Dr. Lindblom. “I would suggest that their loss is more akin to the loss of a good friend. They served as the silent sentinels of strength and solidity. The trees provided a link between generations and to a time that neither of us knew.”
Reverend Truman Norred and Dick Lindblom of the Jacksonville Tree Commission presented the Johnny Appleseed Award to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church for their financial contribution and for the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville for allowing the commission to use their parking lot for the Re-Tree Jacksonville project.
Dr. Jimmy Triplett of the JSU biology department played a fiddle tune for the event-goers which he said he said he wrote in the style of Appalachian fiddle tunes and in commemoration of Northeast Alabama.
To cap the celebration off, President Beehler, SGA President Kasey Gamble, and Dr. Lindblom shoveled the last bit of dirt on the tree planted in front of the International House.