Apart from telling customers to plant red, white, and blue flowering plants for July 4th, there is little in the way of traditional July 4th gardening. This in part is due to the fact that July is not really a month known for its favorable planting weather and in part to the fact that most of celebrations involve metaphors for war, which would not be particularly illustrated with planting. But, this is also due to the fact that this nation has shown little interest in even making a decision on national trees and plants until the past twenty years.
Most states have had trees and flowers for many years. Virginia, for example, made the Dogwood its official tree, as well as the tree’s flower the official flower, in 1918, and Maryland’s White Oak was made official in 1944. Maryland made its state flower, the Black-Eyed Susan, official in 1918. However, the United States Congress did not even start to mention the idea of a national flower until 1965. The proposed flower at the time was the Native Marigold. But, congress did not pass the resolution. It wasn’t until 1988 that congress officially made the Rose the national flower.
And the United States didn’t even make a decision as to a national tree until 2004. What is truly interesting about the process was that it was truly democratic. The nation’s leaders put the decision directly in the hand of the people. In 2001, the Arbor Foundation, with the blessing of congress, held a national poll to determine what the national tree should be. In April 2001, all the votes were in. And guess what? It took congress over three years to actually make the vote official. In December, 2004, Congress officially made the Oak tree the national tree.
This July 4th, look at our nation’s official flower and tree for the symbols of what makes America noteworthy. The rose symbolizes love and compassion, and the oak is a traditional symbol of strength and courage. It has been said that courage and compassion are two sides of the same coin. While we reflect on our nation, its history, its accomplishments, and the things that are yet left undone, we would do well to live up to the legacy of the rose and the oak.
By: Justin Hill, Office Manager