Industry Advocate: Give a little back for everything that’s been given to you

The Renewal and Remembrance event is a favorite, not only for Bob Mann, but for LM Staff members who have participated over the last several years. (Photo: LM Staff)
The Renewal and Remembrance event is a favorite, not only for Bob Mann, but for LM Staff members who have participated over the last several years. (Photo: LM Staff)
Bob Mann headshot
Bob Mann

If you’ve never participated in the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Renewal and Remembrance (R&R) event, make it part of your Green Industry Bucket List. (Did you realize you needed a Green Industry Bucket List? You do now!)

This annual volunteer effort began with one of NALP’s legacy associations, the Professional Lawn Care Association of America, at Arlington National Cemetery spreading pelletized limestone. Everything was donated — labor, equipment and materials.

For nearly 30 years, we succeeded in raising the pH of the soil at the cemetery to the point where we didn’t have to apply quite as much lime, so we branched out into aeration, irrigation, hardscape installation, tree work and other things that I’m sure I have forgotten about.

Now, we’ve taken on new projects. Have you ever heard of the Congressional Cemetery? Apparently, given the condition of the property, not too many people had. NALP stepped in to provide a tremendous amount of work, starting with heavy pruning of some very overgrown trees.

Arlington is an incredibly special place. As a student of American history, I can get lost walking among the endless tombstones and recognizing names of prominent military heroes, politicians and even the boxer Joe Louis. A few years back, I was assigned to aeration duty. Upon arriving at my area, I noticed that the top of the hill was curiously absent of the carefully arranged grave markers, except for three lonesome tombstones.

I walked over to see who was buried there and found it to be John Pershing, the highest-ranking soldier in American history. Along with George Washington, Pershing is the only person to hold the rank of General of the Armies. Buried with him were his son and his grandson, who was killed in action in Vietnam.

Many yards away, the endless tombstones begin yet again. But in the case of General Pershing, he is surrounded by soldiers who served under him and were killed in the First World War.

In years past, the application of lime would take place during the morning to avoid working in the stifling heat and humidity, which, by the way, never worked because Washington D.C. is always hot and humid in July.

After a few hours, many acres and many trailer-loads of lime, we’d all head back to the hotel, jump in the shower and put on suits and ties to attend the second half of the event, Legislative Day on the Hill.

We have since decoupled R&R from Legislative Day on the Hill as a strategic move since there aren’t many Senators or Representatives in town during July. Instead, we organize issue-specific fly-in events.

For instance, NALP has hosted numerous fly-in events in support of the H-2B temporary guest worker visa program as well as a fly-in in support of the Farm Bill.

This year’s Renewal & Remembrance event will be held at the Arlington National Cemetery and the Washington Monument on July 15, 2024. Because this event is so popular, it fills up quickly, so make sure you visit our website to be put on the mailing list. That way, you’ll know when it opens for registration.

See you there!

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