When is Arbor Day?
National Arbor Day in falls on the last Friday in April each year. Arbor Day is the annual holiday encouraging all U.S. citizens to plant, care for, and celebrate local trees. Local observations are usually timed to coincide with optimum planting weather, and presents a wonderful opportunity for parents and teachers to instill in our students a sense of appreciation for America’s natural resources. Furthermore, Arbor Day is a perfect occasion to explain what caring for our tree population means for the betterment of our nation and to nurture students' developing sense of national unity.
These three facts should jump start any Arbor Day celebration. Plus, below is a presidential reminder as to exactly why we should tend to our nation’s trees.
The World Celebrates Arbor Day
- The world's first Arbor Day was celebrated in Spain. The village of Mondoñedo (current-day Alameda de los Remedios) holds the honor of having the first documented arbor planting festival… in 1594. The lime and horse-chestnut tree varieties used in 1594 are still planted there.
- The first American Arbor Day occurred on April 10, 1872, at the urging of Julius Sterling Morton in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Morton served as President Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of Agriculture. Thanks to his efforts, nearly one million trees were planted in Nebraska on that first Arbor Day.
- In 1907, Arbor Day got a valuable springboard into the educational sector. Already, there was growing concern over the rapid destruction of American forests, so conservationists urged then-President Theodore Roosevelt to speak to public school children about the importance of trees and forestry. Roosevelt did more than speak to the children — on April 15, 1907, President Roosevelt issued the “Arbor Day Proclamation to the School Children of the United States” and delivered hard copies for reading aloud in public schools across the nation.
To the School Children of the United States
For its thoughtfulness and transcendence, we have included President Theodore Roosevelt’s April 15, 1907 proclamation here, as sourced from the Library of Congress.
To the School Children of the United States:
Arbor Day (which means simply “Tree Day”) is now observed in every State in our Union—and mainly in the schools. At various times from January to December, but chiefly in this month of April, you give a day or part of a day to special exercises and perhaps to actual tree planting, in recognition of the importance of trees to us as a Nation, and of what they yield in adornment, comfort, and useful products to the communities in which you live.
It is well that you should celebrate your Arbor Day thoughtfully, for within your lifetime the Nation's need of trees will become serious. We of an elder generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted.
For the Nation as for the man or woman and the boy or girl, the road to success is the right use of what we have and the improvement of present opportunity. If you neglect to prepare yourselves now for the duties and responsibilities which will fall upon you later, if you do not learn the things which you will need to know when your school days are over, you will suffer the consequences. So any nation which in its youth lives only for the day, reaps without sowing, and consumes without husbanding, must expect the penalty of the prodigal, whose labor could with difficulty find him the bare means of life.
A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as hopeless; forests which are so used that they cannot renew themselves will soon vanish, and with them all their benefits. A true forest is not merely a storehouse full of wood, but, as it were, a factory of wood, and at the same time a reservoir of water. When you help to preserve our forests or to plant new ones you are acting the part of good citizens. The value of forestry deserves, therefore, to be taught in the schools, which aim to make good citizens of you. If your Arbor Day exercises help you to realize what benefits each one of you receives from the forests, and how by your assistance these benefits may continue, they will serve a good end.
Will You Plant a Tree This Arbor Day?
Send us your pictures of your Arbor Day activities, along with American flags, flagpoles, ropes, or other accessories! We would be honored to feature your photography in our blog or on Facebook. Remember, photos of damaged flags and accessories are valuable, too.
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