Think. Reflect. And Appreciate.
These are the three words that PLANET President Glenn Jacobsen said to more than 400 volunteers who came to work at Arlington National Cemetery for PLANET’s 17th annual Renewal & Remembrance event.
“When you’re working here today, I ask that you take a moment to think, reflect and appreciate the country in which we live, and the choice we make to serve and to give back,” Jacobsen says during the opening ceremony on July 22.
Green industry professionals alike worked side by side landscaping, fixing irrigation, trimming trees, liming and much more to lend a helping hand to the 164 employees who maintain the grounds 365 days a year.
“Your hard work and dedicated efforts demonstrate a respect and gratitude in honor of all who rest here,” says Patrick Hallinan, Superintendent for Arlington National Cemetery. “There are many who rest here in quiet dignity that our nation has recognized as true heroes, but each grave site here is someone’s hero to a loved one.”
The cemetery covers more than 624 acres over a 16-mile stretch in the heart of the nations Capital.
Phil Fogarty, owner of Crowley’s/Weed Man in Euclid, Ohio, has been involved since the program’s first year when it was held in the winter of 1997.
“Each year, we have taken on more and more things,” Fogarty says. “At first it was just liming some areas, then it became sodding and seeding, then we added landscaping and tree work and now we do an irrigation review and fix up every year and cabling and lightning protection.
“We’ve involved all of the disciplines of the green industry.”
One landscaper has taken the event and turned it into a family affair.
Michael Kravitsky IV, President of Grasshopper Lawns in Larksville, Pennsylvania, has been attending the event for 17 years and has involved his kids since the beginning.
“My kids, almost since they were born, have been coming here,” Kravitsky says. “Every year, they love coming back just because of the family that we have here and the work that we do.”
A recent addition to the program included involving children to learn the importance of planting trees and native grasses, as well as learn about honoring veterans.
“We started the kids program several years ago, and at that time, we were planting some trees,” says Gene Queen, President of Nature’s Select out of the Greensboro/Winston-Salem, North Carolina area, who has been attending the event for 13 years. “How great is it for a child to come back 20 years from now and point at a tree and say, ‘I planted that.’ Too many Americans have not seen this.
“If you ever have the opportunity to come and see this place, you’re in awe. It really makes you understand the sacrifices when you see these thousands and thousands of tombstones.”
After serving 39 years in the green industry and serving the United States in Vietnam, Robert Brophy with Turfco Manufacturing addressed the 400 volunteers in a dedication speech about why he continued to return ever year to volunteer.
“Forty-six years ago this month, I held in my hand orders that my army unit was going to Vietnam on Aug. 6 1967,” Brophy said. “The 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment was a small unit. We were only 1,000 men strong. The time the unit was in Vietnam, it put over 180 names on that wall across the river.
“Some are personal friends of mine and some of them rest in these grounds. For them, we must forever remember who we are. We are a nation of people who are willing to work and grow as our abilities allow us.”
For Fogarty, the Renewal & Remembrance event is all about the future and giving back to future generations.
“What we do today is to help those in the next generation like we were given a gift from the past,” Fogarty says. “When you see kids planting here at Arlington, the sacrifice made by the last generation and the generation before goes on and is so much more worth it that way.”
To view all of the photos from the Renewal & Remembrance event, click here.