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Felled Freedom Tree Lives on in New Sculpture

Coeur d'Alene
Coeur d'Alene
The city of Coeur d'Alene

A sizable chunk of the original Freedom Tree in Coeur d'Alene's McEuen Park has been returned to the park, transformed from a big log into patriotic art.

When the big Norway spruce was felled two years ago to make way for a complete makeover of McEuen Park, Coeur d'Alene artist Jeff May claimed a sizable segment of the trunk. For several months, May sawed, chopped and whittled on the wood, shaping it into a sculpture more than 10 feet tall and last week, he presented his work to the city.

The piece features two eagles  - one with wings outstretched - flanking an American flag, and banners with the words "Freedom" and "Return with Honor."

Those words are meaningful for Fred McMurray of Coeur d'Alene. When the Freedom Tree was dedicated to him in 1972, McMurray was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. When he was released in 1973, he was escorted home from Fairchild Air Force Base by a convoy of Coeur d'Alene residents, and driven straight to the Freedom Tree for a celebration of his return.

The spruce was planted originally to block commercial development of Tubbs Hill, adjacent to McEuen Park.

The new freedom sculpture has been placed next to a new Freedom Tree on the west side of the park.

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