The dedication ceremony featured a keynote speech by Loudoun County Supervisor Geary Higgins, as well as stories of the fallen, and a performance of the National Anthem by local Loudoun County students from Briar Woods High School. This project was accomplished through partnerships with Journey Through Hallowed Ground; Loudoun County Parks, Recreation and Community Services; Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve; and Virginia Master Naturalist Banshee Reeks Chapter.
VMN volunteer Leslie Ashman spearheaded this project and stated “I view these plantings as a means of communal healing for the wounds that our country sustained in the Civil War.” “We plant them with a vision of new life and beauty in areas where Witness Trees still stand.” Ashman worked with Banshee Reeks staff, Ron Circé and Julie Paul, to identify a location for a new trail and native trees suitable for the site. A thousand-foot trail was created by staff, overlooking nearby hills and mountains. The Banshee Reeks Chapter Communications and Outreach Committees advertised and marketed the event to gather volunteers, as well as raise awareness around this unique partnership at the preserve.
Volunteers planted multiple native species, including white oak, black gum, sassafras and the Virginia state tree – flowering dogwood. Each tree will be geo-tagged by volunteers from Booz Allen Hamilton, and will be associated with a Civil War soldier that died during the war. The Living Legacy Project not only recognizes the known soldiers that perished, but also the unknown.
“We’re excited about the partnership, and happy to help establish a native tree planting that will improve habitat and last for generations,” said Susan Sims, Secretary of the Banshee Reeks Chapter Board. “It’ll be a reminder of how much we can do when we work together.”
The Living Legacy Project is planting one tree for each of the more than 620,000 casualties of the American Civil War over a 180-mile scenic byway from Gettysburg to Monticello. Following the planting at Banshee Reeks, the project has planted over 5,000 trees.
The project was made possible by help from many VMN and community volunteers, and staff from multiple organizations. Special thanks to Banshee Reeks staff; VMN volunteers Leslie Ashman, Susan Sims, Bill Cour, Jonathan Kauffman, Frank McLaughlin, and Sue Robinson; current VMN trainees Jody Brady, Wendy Cook, Karla Etten, Renee Kitt, Carol Matheny, Mike Sanders and Conrad Varblow; volunteers Angela Hepola, Caitlin Marcotte, and Sangam Pullikut; the Aeromodelers Association; and Journey Through Hallowed Ground Chief Operating Officer Michelle Burrelli.
The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of this region and encouraging Americans and world visitors to appreciate, respect and experience this rich cultural landscape through education and heritage tourism. Visit HallowedGround.org for more information. For more info on the VMN Banshee Reek Chapter, visit vmnbansheereeks.org.