Ceremony to honor ‘Every Light’ author

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Red Bay native Emma Frances Bullen Bryan penned the poem, “Every Light A Prayer For Peace,” which is still read every year at the Garden Club of Alabama’s tree-lighting ceremony.

Red Bay | The Red Bay Garden Club extends a cordial invitation to their annual Arbor Day Celebration to be held at noon on March 13th at Red Bay City Hall. The program will pay tribute to Alabama’s 200th birthday by planting a Bicentennial Bay tree this year. The tree will also be planted in memory of Emma Frances Bullen Bryan. 

As a Red Bay High School senior in 1951, Emma Frances Bullen entered and was awarded first place in a statewide contest. Sponsored by The Garden Club of Alabama, the contest was in support of the troops during the Korean Conflict. Their thoughts were of a Christmas tree with lights and every light representing a prayer for peace. Emma Frances submitted the lovely prayer she composed and it has become a part of our state’s heritage.

It was with joint efforts of the Garden Club of Alabama and concerned citizens that an “Every Light A Prayer For Peace” tree lighting ceremony began. That tree lighting continues to this day each December on the steps of our state capitol. The poem written by Emma Frances Bullen Bryan is still read each year at the ceremony. Emma Frances read the poem herself the first year the ceremony was held. Popular television personality at the time, Arthur Godfrey, gave recognition of this special ceremony on his nationwide TV program based in New York. Emma Frances Bullen began a most meaningful tradition and the roots of that tradition are in Red Bay. 

“The Red Bay Garden Club is honored to plant a Bay Tree in memory of Emma Frances Bullen Bryan at this Arbor Day Celebration,” said Rosalyn Fabianke, chairperson of Red Bay Garden Club’s Arbor Day Program. “The tree is in memory of Emma Frances and in celebration of Alabama’s Bicentennial, making this is a very special, patriotic Arbor Day celebration.”

Speakers for the program will include Red Bay Garden Club president Missy Brandon, Red Bay Mayor Charlene Fancher, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Max Bullen, Publisher Emeritus of The Red Bay News LaVale Mills, Red Bay Tree Commission member Scotty Kennedy, John Bostick, Anne Vinson, and Fabianke. 

The National Anthem will be sung by Jeremy Robinson and singers from Red Bay Freewill Baptist Church. To conclude the program, Jane Bullen, Red Bay Garden Club member, will read the Club Collect. The Red Bay Garden Club will host a reception for those in attendance following the program. 

Fabianke says each year Red Bay‘s Arbor Day celebration is a time of reflecting on our community and all it represents. 

“Planting this tree in memory of Emma Frances Bullen Bryan and in celebration of Alabama’s Bicentennial and Arbor Day will serve as a reminder of past meeting present,” she said. “This is a part of Red Bay Garden Club’s 81 years of service, 81 years of caring. As an entire community we link our hands and hearts together in celebration of our rich heritage – and we look forward to seeing everyone at this special program on March 13th.”