Nation changed with Lincoln decree under ancient Beaufort tree

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comJanuary 2, 2013 

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    Email David Lauderdale at dlauderdale@islandpacket.com.

Thanks to Deonne Parker of Moss Creek for sharing her poem about an event that makes Beaufort County special.

"I am submitting my poem 'Emancipation Oak' to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation," she said. "Emancipation Oak is named after the live oak trees where crowds gathered to hear the Emancipation Proclamation read on Jan. 1 1863, on the grounds where the Naval Hospital now stands.

"African-Americans in Beaufort and the neighboring Sea Islands were free, not slaves, as they were living in federal territory since the Battle of Port Royal on Nov. 7, 1861."

"Emancipation Oak"

By Deonne Parker

Hundreds first heard the news here.

It told the direction President Lincoln would steer.

They gathered under this ancient tree

To learn that slaves would be free.

They heard the Emancipation Proclamation,

News that would spread throughout the nation.

Their freedom would at last be achieved,

If the words they heard could be believed.

Did they think hope would be fulfilled?

Or did they suspect dreams would be killed?

Did they dare place trust in this decree?

The tortuous way ahead could anyone foresee?

This tree became a symbol from that day,

A reminder to all of where the future lay.

Its branches stretch out as if to reach

All humankind and help to teach

Everyone to treat others with respect,

So that the nation of our founders not be wrecked.

Like the leaves of the live oak that stay green,

Liberty ought never to lose its sheen.

This mighty tree should not face demolition.

As long as it stands, it has a mission:

It reminds us of our historic ideal

And keeps us on a path to heal.

Centuries created this awesome giant.

Against encroachment, it stands defiant.

It reminds us to build mutual trust

And set our goal for a world that is just.

Today, democracy's ultimate test

Is to reach all in freedom's ceaseless quest.

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