On the morning of September 11th, 2001, four coordinated terrorist attacks were conducted against the United States. The attacks killed 2,997 people and injured over 6,000 others. Included in that number were: 344 firefighters, 2 paramedics, and 60 police officers who rushed to the scenes to help save lives, as others rushed away from the scenes.
In the aftermath, people everywhere struggled to truly comprehend the extent of the loss and destruction on that day. People who were there, were at a loss to put the events into words. The citizens of Douglas County came together to remember those lives which were lost on that day, even though we did not know them.
On September 11th, 2002 – the first anniversary of the attacks – Douglas County citizens chose to honor the lost lives and make a statement that terrorism would never win. The visual representation of this assertion, was the planting of the Liberty Tree on the grounds of the Douglas County Courthouse. The reasoning was historic and declarative.
The original Liberty Tree was one of a group of elm trees in colonial Boston. The largest elm tree was about 120 years old in 1773 and it was the largest tree in the grove. This tree became the unofficial place for community notices to be posted, and the gathering of citizens.
Over time, the discussions under this elm tree turned to thoughts of liberty, as the British imposed tax after tax on the American colonies.
The group known as the ‘Sons of Liberty’ was formed in secret and their first meetings were held under the Boston elm tree, which then became known as the Liberty Tree. It was under this tree that that the Sons of Liberty planned the Boston Tea Party, which was the dumping of tea chests into Boston harbor to protest the hated Stamp Act.
When the British later seized Boston, they cut down the original Liberty Tree and used it for firewood which 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.
The Douglas County Liberty Tree is also an elm tree and was planted in defiance of another foreign dictator who tried to impose his will on the American people. He destroyed two towers that stood as straight and tall as the original Liberty Tree. He, like all others who have tried over the past 241 years, only destroyed things. They have not and cannot destroy our liberty.
The Douglas County Liberty Tree, bearing a patriotic ribbon for September 11th, is located next to the driveway from Hospital Drive to the Courthouse. Citizens are invited and encouraged to bring their own ribbons and flags and place them on and around the tree to make their individual statements.