Happy Day to you, Earth! There will be the annual party for you today on the National Mall where citizens will rally for your protection to the music of numerous bands and the words of many speakers. And worldwide, over a billion people will bond with voices and commitments on this 2012 Earth Day and call upon everyone to do their part for a sustainable future. In this household as in many others, we celebrate Earth Day daily but it is important to come together once a year to recognize your gifts to all who depend on you for life.
In a small way, I’ve celebrated this time of year by giving and planting trees to schools, clubs or communities, first for Arbor Day, then after 1970, for Earth Day. In 2004, those trees were gifted to mark another occasion… Andy’s Earth Day in Williamsburg, Virginia. On Greensprings Trail in 2004, over 100 friends and family members gathered that year to recognize and honor the life of my nephew, an Eagle Scout, Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps graduate and Biology major at Christopher Newport University, who tragically lost his life in a canoe accident the previous year. We gathered to clean the trails, rake, pick up debris, and plant native trees and flowers on the trail where Andrew helped make the signage and gave nature tours to youngsters, for he loved nothing better than to pass on knowledge, the appreciation of nature and environmental awareness. At the end of the day, family and a few friends migrated to Geddy Park in Williamsburg, the site of Andrew’s Eagle Scout project, to clean and plant in that park setting.
Since that time, the annual Andy’s Earth Day has continued. A spur trail from the Greensprings Trail now spills into a clearing near Jamestown Settlement onto an archaeological site of the historic Church on the Main, a site excavated by Andrew’s father, archaeologist Alain Outlaw. The site, protected by Williamsburg Land Conservancy, is where the annual Andy’s Earth Day takes place. Boy Scout Troop 103 spends the weekend cleaning and maintaining, adding paths, planting trees, and earning merit badges…. rain or shine! There is no better way to build a deeper awareness and convert ideas into habits than starting with the young.
I’m in New England now but I still feel the energy from Andrew and Andy’s Earth Day as I kneel to plant new life in these New Hampshire gardens. Let’s hope the many who stand together today can channel that energy into action, perhaps joining with a Billion Acts of Green… or in a more personal way… today and the other 364 days of the year.