DNES pays tribute to Josiah
By By Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
A red maple tree will soon mark the spot where Josiah Johnson and some of his classmates used to run and play around the flagpole in front of Danville-Neel Elementary School. A memorial marker bearing his name and date of birth and death will be placed at the base of the tree.
The tree was scheduled to be planted on Friday, Arbor Day, but that didn’t happen because of a heavy rainstorm. Instead, it will be planted at a later date as a donation from Joe Wheeler Electric Membership Cooperative.
However, the rain didn’t stop Josiah’s classmates from participating in an Arbor Day program in the school cafeteria. With Josiah’s family looking on, third grade class members filed into the room wearing purple ribbons and celebrating fond memories of the time Josiah was in their presence.
Josiah was a student at Danville-Neel until his death Sept. 15, 2008.
He was diagnosed with acute leukemia Sept. 14, 2004, and underwent a bone marrow transplant in October 2007.
Even though his struggle with the disease prevented him at times from doing all his classmates were able to do, he maintained a steadfast positive attitude and always had a smile for everyone he met, according to school officials.
Representing Josiah’s family at the program were his parents, Josh and Jamie Johnson, sister, Katie Alexander; twin brother, Justice Johnson; and grandparents, Thomas and Sandra Johnson.
Joe Wheeler EMC forester David Sims spoke to the students about the history of Arbor Day and asked them to cite reasons why trees are a valuable natural resource. Several students responded. Their reasons included the following: source of oxygen, habitat for wildlife, provide oxygen, source of food, provide shade and protect the soil from erosion.