By Brandon Martin
Several community members gathered in Uptown Martinsville on April 30 for the dedication of two trees to Fred Martin Sr. and Fred “Freddie” Martin Jr., in celebration of Arbor Day.
Both men were recognized for their community service and fierce love for the city they called home.
“We thank you for being here and for not only recognizing the importance of Arbor Day but also the importance of these two people that we recognized today,” said Martinsville Mayor Kathy Lawson.
Dr. G.H. Vaughan, pastor of McCabe Memorial Baptist Church, gave the invocation and talked about his interactions with the Martin family.
“It’s an honor to be part of this celebration,” Vaughan said. “Fred, Freddie, Lowanda, Tim, and Lisa have been a core part of the McCabe church for a long time, and they’ve led us and taught us a great deal about service. He (Fred) had a heart for the Lord, he had a heart for the city, and he had a dream for what this city could become.”
Fred Martin Sr. passed away on Sept. 13, 2018. His son, Freddie, died unexpectedly on Dec. 30, 2020.
It’s customary for trees to be planted and dedicated to lost loved ones on Arbor Day. The tradition branched off the original conservationist intent of the day.
Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Glade Hill, attended to honor the men and offer insight into the holiday.
“Arbor Day goes back a long time, back to April 1872,” he said. “What’s the definition of arbor? In Latin, it actually means tree.”
Poindexter said the holiday was popularized that year in America by J. Sterling Morton, a journalist and politician in Nebraska.
“Over one million trees were planted that year,” Poindexter said. “The state of Virginia raises millions and millions and millions of seeds each year and we provide them to private landowners, state forestries, and we even send some out of the state for harvesting.”
As an avid farmer, Poindexter said he has planted approximately 10,000-20,000 trees over his lifetime.
“The real image of” Arbor Day is “for a family to plant a tree or two. Why do they do that? They do that to think of the future,” Poindexter said. “Yes, the shade and the beautiful blooms and fruit. That’s important and it goes with it but it’s really for the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, depending on the life of that tree, to enjoy the beauty of the tree and the fruits of the tree.”