These trees have stood the test of time. Over a hundred years ago no one knew how beloved these trees would be. How they would be the center of countless celebrations after Auburn University victories. How they would be the focal point of a tradition that is a favorite among Auburn students, fans, and alums.
But you see these trees are now dead by the hands of sick fan from our rival school. The trees have been dying since November 2010. We found out about the poisoning in February of the next year. Many, including me, cried bitter tears that day. It was a pain that struck so deep. One couldn’t ever imagine crying over a couple of trees, but we did.
A group of experts at Auburn University gathered and started treating the trees to try and save them. There was a glimmer of hope for a short while, but late last year, experts said they were just too far gone. Before this time, surveys were sent out to the Auburn family to get our opinions of how to proceed if the trees didn’t survive and from there, a plan was put in place.
This Saturday is our annual spring football game and it will be the final rolling of these trees. Next Tuesday the trees will be cut down and a few months after that these roots that have grown so far and so deep will be ripped from the ground. New trees will be planted at a later time. This fall there will be no trees on this corner to roll. They will be putting up some type of wiring that we will roll after the football victories. Although, these original roots, trunks, limbs, and leaves won’t be with us anymore, the love of the Toomer’s Oaks, the tradition, and our school will forever be in our hearts. The evil man that killed these trees may have succeeded in that, but he can never take away the Auburn Spirit and the love that the Auburn family has for our university and our traditions.
When the new trees are planted, we will be overjoyed to see new life, but the memories of original trees will be cherished by those of us lucky to have seen them, rolled them, and loved them. The Auburn children of today will the last generation to pass down their stories and memories of the beloved Toomer’s Oaks. I am forever grateful that my children are in those generations.
I’ll leave you with The Auburn Creed
I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work.
I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and my hands to work skillfully.
I believe in honesty and truthfulness, without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of my fellow men.
I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities.
I believe in obedience to law because it protects the rights of all.
I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all.
I believe in my Country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by “doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God.”
And because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I believe in Auburn and love it.
-George Petrie (1945)