Melania Trump helps plant baby Eisenhower oak at White House

From left, President James Monroe's fifth generation grandson Richard Emory Gatchell, Jr., first lady Melania Trump, and President Dwight Eisenhower's granddaughter Mary Jean Eisenhower, participate in a presidential tree planting ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Washington. The sapling was grown from the Eisenhower Oak and replaces a tree which blew down during a windstorm earlier this year. Additionally, this year marks the 200th anniversary of President Monroe's family moving back into the White House after the British set fire to it during the War of 1812. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) –The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joined by descendants of past presidents, Melania Trump helped plant a sapling from an Eisenhower-era tree on the south grounds of the White House.

The White House says the 12- to 14-foot sapling came from the original Eisenhower oak that still stands, towering over an East Wing garden created by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. It replaces a tree that groundskeepers removed after it was felled during a violent windstorm in March.

“We’re honored to make a place here for another historical monument,” the first lady said. “It’s a very special day.”

She was joined by Mary Jean Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Richard Emory Gatchell, Jr., a fifth-generation grandson of President James Monroe.

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This year marks the 200th anniversary of Monroe’s move into a rebuilt White House after the British set it ablaze during the War of 1812.

Other descendants of presidents, in town for a summit organized by the White House Historical Association, and board members of the organization, also attended the brief ceremonial planting under a blistering late-August sun.

Mrs. Trump thanked the National Park Service for keeping the White House grounds in “beautiful shape and the whole of America in good shape.” She also wished the White House Historical Association “good luck” with its summit.

“It’s a beautiful tree that we will plant today,” she said before she and her two guests each used gold-toned shovels to toss scoops of dirt onto the sapling.

The president and first lady plan a reception for the White House Historical Association at the White House on Wednesday night.

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