CONNECTING PEOPLE, NATURE AND OPPORTUNITY

LIBERTY TRAIL

THE OLD ELM ON PIERCE STREET
(Letter to a Soldier)
 

 
Dear Craig,
 
In my last letter, I told you about the Liberty Walk we were organizing to raise the historic awareness of the role Liberty played in the founding of our country.  A curious synchronicity of Liberty Tree symbols emerged this week.  It began as I was passing out the Liberty Walk flyer/map along Pierce Street in our town's historic district... 
 
                               

 
Three doors past the Kentish Guard Armory, I slipped a flyer into the "mail slot" of a door that was slightly ajar.  The older man living inside heard me and came out to see what I was up to.  As we chatted, he pointed out a huge elm tree in his front yard, "That is the second oldest elm tree in Rhode Island, and the town wanted to cut it down.”  It is rare to see such a magnificent American Elm that has endured elm disease.
 
Three days later, I went walking with my friend Paula, who's a yoga instructor, through Pawtuxet Village.  In 1772, it was here where Rhode Island patriots took the first organized military action towards independence by attacking and burning the British revenue schooner, HMS Gaspée. This was America’s “First Blow for Freedom” that led directly to the establishment of permanent Committees of Correspondence, unifying the individual colonies, and starting the process of the American Revolution. 
 
The cities of Cranston and Warwick celebrate this historic role hosting the annual Gaspee Days Parade each June.  Paula showed me the park where the cities had recently planted a new elm sapling, and I thought, “wow, an old elm on Monday and now a new elm on Thursday.”  Set into the ground in front of the small tree was a plaque, briefly explaining the story of the “Liberty Tree”.  I was not familiar with this story, and so I googled "Liberty Tree" immediately upon getting home.  

THE FIRST LIBERTY ELM 

 
Here’s what I learned:
 
The Liberty Tree (1646–1775) was a famous elm tree that stood near the Boston Common in the days before the Revolution. The tree was a rallying point for the growing resistance.  In the years that followed, almost every American town had its own Liberty Tree—a living symbol of popular support for individual liberty and resistance to tyranny. 
 
In 1765 the British government imposed a Stamp Act on the American colonies. It required all legal documents, permits, commercial contracts, newspapers, pamphlets, and playing cards in the American colonies to carry a tax stamp. Because the Act applied to papers, newspapers, advertisements, and other publications and legal documents, it was viewed by the colonists as a means of censorship, or a "knowledge tax," on the rights of the colonists to write and read freely.
 
  
                                        
 
On August 14, 1765, a group of men calling themselves the Sons of Liberty gathered in Boston under a large elm tree near Hanover Square to protest the hated Stamp Act. The Sons of Liberty concluded their protest by lynching two tax collectors in effigy from the tree.

During the siege of Boston in August 1775, British soldiers defiantly cut the tree down in an act of spite, knowing what it represented to the colonists, and used the tree for firewood. This act further enraged the colonists. As resistance to the British grew, flags bearing a representation of the Liberty Tree were flown to symbolize the unwavering spirit of liberty.
 
LIBERTY ELM DINER

  
 
                     
 
The very next day, Friday, October 22, I received an email from Paula, which fell right in alignment with everything else... it referred to a restaurant called The Liberty Elm Diner.
 
OMG, Wendy can you stand it?
 
I am buying this deal...do you know about Groupon?  If not, I shared it awhile ago...sign on under me and I get some $$$$
 

 

Talk to you later,

 

PK

-------- Begin forwarded message --------

Subject: $5 for American Fare at Liberty Elm Diner

Date: 10/21/10 6:10:56 AM

From: "Groupon" yogadance1@cox.net
 
See Today's Groupon Deal worth: discount: savings: $10 50% $5

Company Information: The Liberty Elm Diner website Location: 777 Elmwood Ave.Providence, Rhode Island 02907
   

Horse-powered trains, the precursor to steam engines and monorails, were the first to feature both lunch cars and outhouse cars that doubled as sleeper cars for lowly magicians... The Liberty Elm Diner occupies an authentic 1947 Worchester Locomotive lunch car and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places... The interior features works of local art and live music, and radiates an overwhelming gravitational pull for vacant stomachs and asteroids... donates 1% of all profits to planting Dutch-Elm Liberty trees.
 

The coincidence was just too funny.  I was so inspired to create a Liberty Tree flag for the walk.  I’d found historic pictures of Liberty Tree flags online, but no such item could be found for sale.  I wanted one to carry alongside the U.S. flag, the Rhode Island flag, and the Gadsden flag.

                          

The Liberty Tree flags that I found through my research all appeared to be evergreens beneath which the phrase, “AN APPEAL TO GOD” appeared.   I felt compelled to design my flag with an elm tree, and included the liberating message “AN APPEAL TO GOD,” entrusting to God those matters which are out of our control.  His angels have a way of surrounding you, when burdens get heavy or life becomes too uncertain.

So, remember this, Craig.  We love you dearly.  We pray in gratitude for you and your comrades, and for your courage, strength, and protection as you deploy to Iraq.

God Bless the U.S. Army,

Aunt Wendy
  
Learn about the various sites and museums along the East Greenwich Liberty Trail.
  
Rhode Island offers many story settings with a resource-rich natural environment that ranges from bay waters to rolling woodlands, and with almost three centuries of well-preserved historic sites.  The state's history is layered with generations of elm trees and political battles, beginning with attacks on the native Narragansett people, followed by fearless acts against British tyranny, and continuing on into the Civil War and beyond.  For almost 300 years Rhode Island's inhabitants have been either victims or perpetrators of the repeated mistakes of oppression that continually challenge a peaceful coexistence.  And, there are countless small town Rhode Island heroes, who made sacrifices in the name Liberty, Unity, Peace and Hope, either in defending the freedom of the majority from an overbearing overextended government, or in lending a hand to lift a neighbor who had been less fortunate.  
 
Do you ever notice the synchronicities present in your day to day thoughts, communications, and observations?  See if you become aware of any over the next couple of days as you go about your business.
 
When you are ready travel
on to the next story, which is about a cardinal, a dove, and a blue jay (three birdies - red, white, and blue) and what they signify... Guiding Signs of Nature.

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