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Great Bend Rotary commemorates planting of courthouse Gingko tree
Austin Moore is a sophomore at Great Bend High School, and is currently working on his Eagle Scout project. As a member of Boy Scout Troop 149, he was asked to lead the Pledge of Allegiance Monday afternoon when the Great Bend Rotary Club held a dedication ceremony for the Japanese Gingko tree that grows in the north lawn of the courthouse. The tree was one of many seedlings planted by Troop 110 in 1940. For Rotarians, 2018 is The Year of the Tree. - photo by VERONICA COONS, Great Bend Tribune

Great Bend Rotary commemorates planting of courthouse Gingko tree

Gingko tree is both ancient and symbolic

On June 18, Great Bend Rotarian Pat Cale requested and was granted permission from the Great Bend City Council for the Great Bend Rotary to commemorate the planting of a 70-plus year old Gingko tree in the north lawn of the courthouse in 1940. Boy Scout Troop 110, sponsored by the Great Bend Rotary Club at that time, planted that and many other trees in the city that year.
“For Rotary clubs around the world, 2018 is the year of the tree,” Cale stated at that meeting. “And, Great Bend has some unusual trees.”

Monday afternoon, the ceremony took place on the north lawn of the courthouse with Rotary members, Congressman Roger Marshall, and the last remaining Troop 110 Scout from 1940, Dr. Frank Reinhardt, attending.

The tree was one of over 63,000 seedlings ordered by the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce that were distributed in 1940 as part of a National Arbor Day drive to encourage the planting of trees following the Depression and dust bowl years of the 1930s, according to Mark Mingenback, master of ceremonies at the event said. He recognized Lisa Whipple, chair of the Great Bend Tree Board, who offered the invocation following the Pledge of Allegiance led by Boy Scout Austin Moore, Troop 149.
Mingenback also asked retired optometrist Dr. Reinhardt to say a few words. The only remaining member of Troop 110, Reinhardt was an Eagle Scout in 1940-1941 when the tree was planted. Some of the other members included Glen Opie, who for so many years led and supported the Argonne Rebels Drum and Bugle Corps, and inventor Jack Kilby, for whom the courthouse square is named.
He spoke of how the Boy Scouts made him feel welcome when his family moved to Great Bend from Bazine. He noted that the Great Bend Rotary club was a sponsor of Troop 110, and commended the organization for its years of sponsorship for the troop.

Cale, with the assistance of Barton County Historical Society Museum Director Beverly Komarek and Great Bend Public Library Director Gale Santy researched information about the Ginkgo tree for the event. Congressman Roger Marshall shared some of that information with those gathered at the event.
It was on Aug. 6, 1945, that the first atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima by an American B-29 bomber. Exploding 2,000 feet in the air, it killed 80,000 people, wiping out 90 percent of the population of that city. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing 40,000 more people, and ultimately leading to the Japanese surrender on Aug. 15, 1945, and the end of WWII. The bombs scorched the earth, but Ginkgo trees in those cities, thought to be dead, resprouted their leaves, resiliently surviving even nuclear bombs.

Marshall spoke of the six areas of focus of Rotary, and noted that dedicating that tree was symbolic of Rotary’s focus on promoting world peace.

“I’m very honored to help celebrate this moment, going way back to troops that we sponsored decades ago,” he said. “I’m very proud to be here promoting world peace today.”

Great Bend Rotary President Lee Musil announced this is the 95th year the club has been active, and he recognized members including Cale who made the dedication ceremony possible.
The 14 x 24 inch black granite memorial, prepared by Bell Memorial of Great Bend, has been set in ground just north of the trunk of the Ginkgo Tree. Cale is aware of three surviving trees, one at 2611 Broadway, one at Jackson and 16th and the one on the square, but said there may be more.

Ginkgo biloba, commonly known as ginkgo or gingko, also known as the ginkgo tree or the maidenhair tree, is the only living species in the division Ginkgophyta, all others being extinct. It is found in fossils dating back 270 million years.