Less than a week after it hit the media that the “friendship tree” given to Donald and Melania Trump by French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte had died, the leader of France has vowed to replace it.
The Daily Beast reports that Macron is asking that people not read too much into the death of the tree, insisting that “death is not a tragedy.” Many have likened the death of the tree to the state of the relationship between the United States and France, but Macron is urging that people “not see symbols where there are none.”
The sapling from the oak tree was taken from a former battleground in France where nearly 2,000 American soldiers died during World War I. Macron explains that the reason the tree died was that it was kept in quarantine for so long for health and legal reasons.
“I’ll send another oak because I think the U.S. Marines and the friendship for freedom between our peoples is well worth it.”
The New York Times reports that it wasn’t long after the young oak tree was planted on the South Lawn of the White House that it suddenly disappeared. The European sessile oak had died as a result of its time in customs quarantine and the French ambassador says that it can easily be replaced.
This oak tree will stand as “A reminder … of these ties that bind us" and the "tenacity of the friendship" between the United States and France. - President Emmanuel Macron https://t.co/BFYK617iHK— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) June 11, 2019
The circumstances surrounding the death of the tree are still unclear, and a diplomatic official says that experts believe that it’s hard to say what happened, and believe that differences in soil composition can make it difficult for a foreign tree to take root.
When the tree was planted on the White House lawn, President Macron spoke, saying that he was pleased the tree “can now take root here at the White House in front of us as a symbol of the sacrifice and the common battles that France and the United States have led together.”
The day after the tree was planted, Vice President Mike Pence shared some words in honor of the occasion.
“In the words of the Psalmist, may this relationship grow ‘like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, and produces its fruit in season whose leaf also does not wither.'”
Soon after the tree was planted, the relationship between Trump and Macron was said to have “soured” after differences in philosophies toward trade and security surfaced. News of the oak’s death reached the men when they were together for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, and the men announced that they were going to try to put their differences behind them.