There are only a few dates on the calendar when Americans are asked to remember what veterans have done for the country. But Jake Johnson thinks every day about those who have served.
Johnson, who works for LawnAmerica in Tulsa, Ok., and finished his active duty with the Marines at the beginning of June, specifically thinks about his three friends from his unit who died in battle. Two of them are buried in Arlington National Cemetery where Johnson, along with more than 400 other members of the National Association of Landscape Professionals participated in the 19th annual Renewal & Remembrance.
“This trip is a good chance to give back to guys who gave everything,” said Johnson, who is visiting Arlington for the first time. “If they were still here, they would want to make the world a better place.”
Johnson’s father, Brad, who owns LawnAmerica, has volunteered at Renewal & Remembrance four times, but this one has a little more meaning.
“It’s a small way to honor our military,” Johnson said. “That my son is a vet makes it more meaningful, to me, especially since some of his unit is buried here.”
During Renewal & Remembrance, volunteers tended to 200-plus acres of the cemetery’s 624 acres. Volunteers mulched, pruned, aerated, and applied lime and gypsum to the grounds. Approximately 80 tons of lime will be applied to 182 acres of turf by the end of the day.
In addition, irrigation contractors performed audits and inspected and repaired irrigation systems as needed to various parts of the cemetery. Arborists installed lightning protection on seven of the cemetery’s historic trees and cabled two others for support.
Brion Moore, deputy superintendent of cemetery operations, said the grounds would be much more difficult to maintain without NALP members volunteering. “It will have effects throughout this season and into next year,” he said.
Jimmy Viars and his wife, Juli, who attended with the Professional Grounds Management Society, plan on leaving
two rocks that read “strength” and “heal” on the tombstone of his father, John, who served in World War II and the Korean War.
“It gives us a chance to take care of the people who protected us,” Jimmy said.
Along with NALP members volunteering at the cemetery, two children of association members placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Fifty children ages 3-13 also planted perennial flowers on the cemetery grounds in the morning.
The morning began with a formal program with speeches from Moore, NALP president Scott Jamieson, John Deere Landscapes CEO Doug Black and New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayote, who helped her husband, Joseph, who is a veteran, start landscaping company, Daley’s Outdoor Services.
“Your time and energy will make a big difference today,” she said. “I applaud the hard work you all do every single day.”
New Holland Construction and Caterpillar were platinum sponsors for Renewal & Remembrance.
On Tuesday, contractors will take part in NALP’s Day on the Hill, where they get face time with their local representatives. The points the contractors will address are:
· Comprehensive immigration reform
· The H-2B program
· Seasonal employee healthcare
· Waters of the United States
· Tick-borne diseases
· Pollinator stewardship
Check back to lawnandlandscape.com and check out our September issue for more on Day on the Hill.