“Why do you waste your time?” the lady I sat next to on the plane asked after she inquired what I was going to do in D.C., and I explained about Renewal & Remembrance and Legislative Day with PLANET. “Well ,” she continued negatively, “it’s supposed to be really hot, humid, and don’t forget the time change too—that means you both will be getting up at 3 a.m. and you know those politicians don’t listen.“ I just smiled at her. How do I explain to her what these events mean?
This question still echoed in my head as we (my 11-year-old son and I) entered Arlington National Cemetery. He said he felt somber, thankful, sad, cool, and excited, all wrapped into one. I saw him take off his hat in respect when he said the pledge of allegiance in the front of the amphitheater, crammed with hundreds of PLANET volunteers. I watched him as he told his new 3-year-old friend “work with me,” as they planted a tree and grasses together on a hill as part of an effort reduce rainwater runoff. I know that the very tree he helped plant will someday provide shade to the people who come to honor those buried here at Arlington. I felt his arm around my waist comforting me as I cried when they played taps at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after laying the wreath and his whispered question asking if I was ok. I saw him gaze at the horse-drawn, flag-draped casket accompanied by a platoon dressed in white and then ask me if I knew how that person had died trying to keep us free. I noticed the entire PLANET volunteer team standing still in respect, hats in hands, as the procession went by. At the end of the day, hot sweaty and stinky, he put his head on my shoulder during the bus ride back and said, “Mom, do we get to come back and help plant again next year? We are the planting experts you know and they need our help ….”
I watched his face turn slowly red as Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) looked directly at him and asked him, “Why are you here?” He spoke up and said, “To talk to you sir.” When Sen. Heller asked him about what, I listened as my son told him about the ways that government affects our company and our green industry. This introduction opened the door for my conversation that was warmly received. Next, I observed him from the balcony while he was on the House of Representatives floor during a vote with Rep. Dr. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) as he introduced himself, shook hands, and said he was here to help PLANET, the best landscaping group in America. Another life moment captured. I saw him confidently approach Sen. Harry Reid (R-Nev.), offer his hand, introduce himself, and smile when the senator told him he has a son named Joshua too. At the end of our visits he said, “Mom, politicians are just normal people, just like Rep. Dr. Foxx says. They work in our capital and they work for us.”