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Issue Brief: Renew and remember

July 18, 2018 -  By

Bob Mann headshotEach July, members of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) head to the sacred grounds of Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia for NALP’s Renewal & Remembrance event. Hundreds of volunteers, many of them families, fan out across the cemetery to apply lime, core aerate lawn areas, install irrigation, plant flowers and cable, brace and trim trees. Those who have participated in this event will tell you they found it incredibly moving and cannot wait to do it again, but words sometimes fail them when they try to describe why.

Two years ago during the event, my daughter and I were part of an aeration crew that was working in Section 34, a hilly area of the cemetery where thousands of headstones flowed out in each direction. Curiously, three stones stood alone at the top of the hill. As an American history buff, I couldn’t help myself—I had to read the inscriptions. There, standing watch over those below him, was John Pershing, General of the Armies during the First World War. Next to him were two of his grandsons, also Army officers, one of which was killed in action during the Vietnam War. Few soldiers before or since have been as revered as Black Jack Pershing, and to spend a few moments watching my daughter aerate the lawn at his final resting place was special, to say the least.

Sometimes I think that we expend too much time and energy on whatever crisis is in front of us: not enough labor, too much regulation, another machine broken. For one morning a year, those who rest on the Virginia side of the Potomac River remind us that it’s an incredible privilege to live in a free country.

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About the Author:

Bob Mann, LIC, formerly the agronomist for Lawn Dawg, is the director of state and local government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

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