Oak tree good choice

Friday, November 26, 2004

The bald eagle, the Star Spangled Banner, the rose. And now, thanks to Nebraska's National Arbor Day Foundation and McCook native, Sen. Ben Nelson -- the oak tree will join those icons as officially recognized national symbols.

A member of the Beech family, the oak is a type of deciduous tree -- one that sheds all of its leaves during one season -- and bears the scientific name Quercus or Lithocarpus.

They can live to be more than 200 years old -- in fact, the Wye Oak in Talbot County, Maryland, was more than 460 years old when it was destroyed by a violent thunderstorm in 2002.

Nelson's legislation, designating the oak as the official tree of the United States, was passed into law as part of the omnibus bill approved by Congress last weekend.

"It is only appropriate that the oak becomes our official tree because it is so much like America and its people," Nelson said. "Like an oak, the United States has grown from just an acorn of colonialism into a powerful entity whose many branches continue to strengthen and reach skyward with every passing year."

Nelson introduced the bill, S. 860, in April 2003 in response to an online poll conducted by the National Arbor Day Foundation, based in Nebraska City. The oak won by a 5-to-1 margin, receiving 444,628 votes compared to the runner-up, the redwood, which received 80,841.

"The mighty oak has been memorialized in poetry and song since our country began," Nelson said. "It was recently repopularized with the revival of the tune 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree' in support of our troops," he said. "The oak has stood for centuries as a symbol of strength, beauty and durability, just like the country it now officially symbolizes."

Congratulations to Nelson and the National Arbor Day Foundation, who, as Nebraskans, can be proud of their positive national influence.

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