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Living Legacy Project Gives Thanks to Civil War Veterans By Planting New Trees

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In commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground (JTHG) partnership has launched an initiative of national significance called the Living Legacy Project. The plan is to dedicate a tree for each of the more than 620,000 soldiers who died during the American Civil War.

The kick-off for the project was held Thanksgiving week at Oatlands Historic House and Gardens, which is a National Trust Historic Site at the geographical center of the JTHG National Scenic Byway. More than 400 trees will be either planted or dedicated at Oatlands as part of this program.

Virginia's Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton and National Trust for Historic Preservation President and Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Meeks both were scheduled to speak at the dedication ceremony.

Trees Are a Vital Legacy
"Trees play a central role in the history at Oatlands, from the magnificent maples and oaks that line the drive, to the stunning specimen trees that preside over Oatlands' historic buildings and walled garden," said Oatlands Board Chair Michael J. O'Connor in a press release. He continued:

The trees, many of which were standing during the Civil War, are considered premier and priceless specimens.

The planting of over 400 trees for the Living Legacy Project will reduce our carbon footprint, create a wonderful habitat 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.

"We believe this is the time and place to create and implement a living legacy that continues to heal wounds as it humbles every American with a perspective on the tragedy of the war," said David F. Williams, the Board Chair of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, whose family owns property adjacent to the site and has also agreed to participate in the initiative. "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."

This is the first phase of the tree planting project, which will eventually stretch along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway, a 180-mile swath of land that runs from Gettysburg, Pa. to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Charlottesville, Va.

Lincoln's Words on Saying Thanks by Healing Wounds
President Abraham Lincoln, in his proclamation announcing the Thanksgiving holiday in 1863 invited the country to:

Set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day for thanksgiving and praise... commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of 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.

Geo-Tags Permit Donors to Specify a Soldier's Story and a Tree
The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership is actively engaged in raising the necessary funds to complete this $65 million initiative. Individuals, businesses, schools and community groups from around the world can contribute to this project.

Donors who contribute $100 may select a soldier to honor, as the trees will be geo-tagged to allow smartphone users to learn the story of the soldier, providing a strong educational component to engage interest in the region's historical heritage and literally bringing the tree to life. For more information on the Living Legacy Project, visit

The JTHG National Scenic Byway, which crosses the Mason Dixon Line, serves as a link to each of the battlefields and connects over 30 historic communities, each of which was gravely impacted by the Civil War. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area holds the largest concentration of Civil War battlefield sites in the country, including the beginning of the War (Harpers Ferry and Manassas), the middle (Antietam and Gettysburg) and the end (Appomattox).

Oatlands Historic House and Gardens is a National Trust Historic Site and a National Historic Landmark. Tours of the Classical Revival mansion are offered daily and visitors may enjoy the four-and-a-half acres of historic gardens. The property boasts the oldest greenhouse in Virginia. Call 703-777-3174 for additional information or visit

For more stories of America's past, please visit

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