Jacob Bembry: Greene Publishing, Inc.
The beautiful oaks that surround the Four Freedoms Park offer visitors a respite from the blazing sun in summers and a place to relax and reflect in the autumn months, as well as in spring and winter. In 1963, though, the trees were almost cut down not by a fierce hurricane but by progress.
In September of that year, the Madison County Commission voted to rescind a previous request it had made to the Florida Department of Transportation. They had asked the state to realign US 90 as it became four-laned throughout the city. To do this, it meant that the trees would have to be removed.
At a public hearing, local historian Carlton Smith joined his voice in chorus with those demanding to leave the trees alone. It was pointed out that the trees shaded the Four Freedoms statue, which was erected in honor of Capt. Colin P. Kelly, Jr., Madison native and the very first recognized hero of World War II.
Smith also noted that women of Madison County had presented Capt. Richard Bradford with a flag as he prepared to leave for the War Between the States with the county’s first corps of volunteers.
Court for Madison County had also been held under the oaks in the park.
When traveling by the park, pause to look at the beautiful moss-draped oaks and reflect on their history and the history of Madison County.