On July 19, 2021, 250 landscape industry professionals volunteered their time and skills at Arlington National Cemetery and on the National Mall for the annual Renewal & Remembrance event.
“Whether it’s the 25th or not, I think being part of Renewal and Remembrance is a great honor,” says Bruce Allentuck, president of Allentuck Landscaping Co. based in Rockville, Maryland. “How many people get to work at these iconic landscapes and make a difference? The fact that is the 25th is a testimony to the people before me that started it and their vision.”
The event was also the first time NALP members and staff had been together over the last 18 months. NALP president Shayne Newman, LIC, president of YardScapes Landscape Professionals, based in New Milford, Connecticut, says he could not think of a better reason to gather in person. Newman says he hopes the association will be serving Arlington National Cemetery for another 25 years.
This year the scope was smaller at the cemetery due to COVID-19, but 150 volunteers were able to work on irrigation repair and upgrades, hardscape installation, a landscape lighting project and installing lightning protection for nine historic oak trees.
“A lightning strike can be devastating to a tree in terms of opening up the inner tissue, the heartwood,” says Eli Swadener, a climbing arborist with Bartlett Tree Experts. “Sometimes it chars but that can result in rot and eventually that can result in structural damage that potentially could lead to it falling from some destructive force later on once it’s weakened. It’s very important for historic trees like this that take hundreds of years to grow.”
Swadener says his father served in the Air Force and his grandfather served in the Marines so getting to volunteer at Arlington means a lot.
“This is just special to me to be able to come out here,” Swadener says. “I did not follow the path in the military but to be able to contribute and give back is so important and I’m so thankful for the opportunity.”
Sean Massey, manager in training for Massey Services, based in Orlando, Florida, says this is his first year getting to serve and that it’s been nice to help a good cause.
New to Renewal and Remembrance this year was the volunteer project at the National Mall. NALP worked in coordination with the Trust for the National Mall and the National Park Service to select the projects of helping preserve the cherry trees near the Washington Monument and aerating the turf at the West Potomac Park sports fields. 100 volunteers were able to work on these projects.
Allentuck says they had been researching other potential sites for a couple of years and when the pandemic hit, John Deere was able to open the door for a conversation with the Trust for the National Mall and the National Park Service. Eventually through their discussions, NALP found work that would be meaningful and make a difference on the properties and would make a difference to the members.
“The Arlington Cemetery is an amazing piece of land,” Allentuck says. “There’s no more important piece of land in this country, as far as I’m concerned. The National Mall allows us to bring in more of our members. There’s definitely demand. It allows us to give a different experience and there’s no reason why people can’t go back and forth year after year, and experience both.”
Kenny Crenshaw, president and owner of Herbi-Systems, Inc., based in Memphis, Tennessee, says he’s been coming for 18 years and that Renewal and Remembrance is a good opportunity to serve and give back.
“It’s exciting,” Crenshaw says. “Arlington never gets old, but we’re looking forward to a relationship with that National Park Service. They’ve been very nice and very cooperative and very helpful. As a landscaper, I look around and I see lots of potential of things that we could do.”
Ryan Anderson, product marketing manager for New Holland Construction says he and his team look forward to coming each year and putting in the hard work. He says that working at the National Mall this year is unique and interesting to work in a different space outside of the hallowed grounds of ANC.
“Knowing how many people come to the National Mall, every single year and actually observe and appreciate everything that’s out here especially with these cherry trees here,” Anderson says. “It’s really a good opportunity to get some good visibility for us and continue to beautify this area during a time when the country needs areas to get together and appreciate certain parts of the nation.”
Renewal & Remembrance simply could not happen without the strong support from many industry partners who donate equipment and team member support, including lead partners Caterpillar, John Deere, New Holland Construction, and SiteOne. View the complete list of partners.
To view more pictures from the event, go to NALP’s Flickr page.