Special to The Clinton Courier
Former Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn of Clinton, along with dozens of lawmakers, colleagues, friends and family, gathered on the southwest side of the State Capitol grounds for a tree dedication ceremony on Thursday, January 11.
During the ceremony, remarks were delivered by former Chief of Staff Nathan Wells and Gunn’s successor, Speaker Jason White (R – West). An invocation was given by Dr. Greg Belser, Gunn’s pastor at Morrison Heights Baptist Church. Gunn also delivered what he deemed his “tree speech,” where he thanked his family, colleagues and staff for their support and guidance.
Planting a tree upon leaving office at the Capitol is a tradition that dates back many years, and it is one only open to speakers and lieutenant governors, except in very rare circumstances. The tree chosen by the 61st Speaker was a red oak. Capitol curator Brenda Davis and Schoggen Scapes, Inc. worked to secure the tree, which came from a farm in south Mississippi.
Gunn was the 61st Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, representing District 56 (Madison and Hinds Counties) from 2004-2023. He was elected Speaker in 2012, becoming the first Republican Speaker in the Mississippi House since Reconstruction. Among his achievements as the Speaker include changing the state flag, reforming the state income tax, fighting human trafficking, raising teacher salaries and leading the charge to overturn Roe v. Wade.