Where It All Began
How did a tree, of so much importance, disappear within a year of being planted?
To answer that, we must trace it’s life and mysterious disappearance through Ursinus’s history. One of the very first mentions of the Peace Tree is on October 6th, 1969 in The Ursinus Weekly. This article from October 24th, 1969 speaks on how there was a scroll buried under the tree, which contained the names of Collegeville’s soldiers whose lives were lost fighting in the Vietnam War . The tree was supposed to symbolize peace and life, which serving as an artifact so people wouldn’t forget the lives lost.
The myth of Ursinus’s Peace Tree origins from when the tree was planted on October 15th, 1969. The Ursinus Weekly published an article about the Vietnam Moratorium that included pictures  of a sugar maple tree being planted as one of the days activities, but no location was specified. The tree was referenced as the "tree of life" and it was supposed to act as a light in the darkness of the Vietnam War. It was meant to symbolize peace and life, after so much death and instability. The reason for trees being involved in mythology is subjective and the idea of a missing tree denotes that the area could be suffering from a loss of strength and safety, which could be where the legend’s embers started to burn. The Peace Tree was planted as a symbol of peace, hope, and stability. When the tree went missing it, it spoke legions about the climate of 1969 and the dissension between the students and the administration.
The purpose of the tree was so that when anyone saw it, they would stop and remember that time of imbalance and pain. The Peace Tree seems to have angered the students who were not only against the war but also against having the tree around to remind them of some of the worst years of their lives.
Though the tree was supposed to symbolize so much, it was constantly glossed over and pushed to the side. In the articles, the location, type of tree, and reasoning for the tree are spoken within a few short lines and one short paragraph . The magnitude of the Peace Tree was underestimated and misunderstood so much so that it disappeared in history.
One could pose the question: why? Was it because of the mounting protest and student disapproval?
1. Anonymous. "Vietnam Moratorium." The Ursinus Weekly (Collegeville), October 6th, 1969.
2. Schranger, Eileen. "Ursinus Students, Faculty Observe Nationwide Vietnam Moratorium; Hundreds Attend Night Procession." The Ursinus Weekly (Collegeville), October 24, 1969: 1,6.
3. Schranger, Eileen. "Ursinus Students, Faculty Observe Nationwide Vietnam Moratorium; Hundreds Attend Night Procession." 1,6.
4. Gold, Alan C. "A Day Of Moratorium, A Lifetime Of Commitment." The Ursinus Weekly (Collegeville), October 24, 1969: 2.
5. Schranger, Eileen. "UC and 500 Colleges Schedule Vietnam Moratorium Wednesday, Classes Not Offically Cancelled." The Ursinus Weekly(Collegeville), October 10, 1969: 1.