Renewal & Remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery
For 20 years now, the National Association of Landscape Professionals has set aside one massive day of service to help enhance and preserve the landscape at Arlington National Cemetery. It is called Renewal & Remembrance. This year, ten of our team members joined over 500 of our colleagues to perform turf care, irrigation system improvements, tree pruning, cabling and and lightning protection, and install new landscape plantings.
The day began with an opening ceremony complete with a military color guard. Our guest speaker was Bill Rausch, the Executive Director of Got Your 6 (https://gotyour6.org/). Got Your 6 is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for veterans to become community leaders. He spoke about living with a purpose and the fact that veterans are a civic asset. Next, my friend Phil Fogarty inspired us by discussing the meaning of why we were there and what it means to the families who come to Arlington National Cemetery to visit their loved ones and friends. He reminded us that there is a story behind every headstone. Both speaker’s words touched everyone deeply.
Next, the teams fanned out to their assignments throughout the 624 acre grounds. This is an impressive moment of the day. Organizing 500 people can be a difficult task but our leadership team nailed it. The energy from the morning speakers gave heightened energy to our volunteers as the controlled chaos gave way to an incredible amount of work performed in a short period of time.
Our Allentuck Landscaping team was assigned to create a new garden near the Visitor Center. They installed dozens of shrubs and perennials which will greet visitors everyday. When they finished, they joined another team to a brick paver walkway. Both projects turned out beautifully.
My family and I were assigned to help guide the 65 children participating in the Children’s Project. This is one of the best parts of what we do at Renewal & Remembrance. In a time when most children are glued to an electronic device, the opportunity to teach them about the importance of honoring those interred at Arlington National Cemetery while beautifying it at the same time is a wonderful thing. The children attended a wreath laying at the Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers, met a caisson horse named Elvira and learned about her from her handler Staff Sargent Smith, discussed the Spanish-American War, left flowers at headstones, and planted flowers at the Spanish-American War Memorial. The children were tired, hot and dirty, but all of them had a fun and meaningful day.
The last part of my day was to sneak off to Section 60 for a few minutes. Section 60 is where soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are interred. For several years I have been visiting one tombstone as often as possible. It belongs to a soldier from my town who was killed in Afghanistan. I never knew him but his life was very similar to mine. I spent a few moments there reflecting on how thankful and honored I am to participate in such a meaningful and important event.
Remember, Allentuck Landscaping Co. is always here to help you design, install, construct and maintain you lawn and landscape. Give us a call!
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