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National Living Classroom spans history's past, future.

Kids, congressmen, and military brass plant a growing memorial to Medal of Honor recipients at Arlington National Cemetery.

THE NATIONAL Living Classroom, an outreach of AMERICAN FORESTS' Famous & Historic Trees program, was planted at Arlington National Cemetery on Arbor Day, April 29, to both honor the past and provide for the future. The planting, which kicks off a campaign to plant thousands of Living Classrooms, commemorated the nation's 3,394 Medal of Honor recipients. The more than 50 young trees planted are associated with some of the country's most famous people and historic events--from a George Washington holly and a Walden Woods red maple to a Gettysburg sycamore and a Jesse Owens water oak. These and hundreds of other trees form the centerpiece of AMERICAN FORESTS' new educational program.

The National Living Classroom was coordinated by AMERICAN FORESTS and the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, a congressionally chartered organization for recipients of our nation's highest award for military valor, in partnership with the National Tree Trust. Living Classrooms consist of a grove of Famous & Historic Trees and accompanying education materials, including lesson plans for teachers and extensive hands-on activities for students.

National figures who participated in the planting included House Minority Leader Robert Michel; South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond; Secretary of the Army Togo West; Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Sherri Wasserman Goodman; General Patrick Brady, president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society; Trammel Crow, chairman of the National Tree Trust; seven Medal of Honor recipients; and representatives of the Purple Heart Foundation and Gold Star Wives of America.

In his remarks, Brady urged veterans organizations and community groups of all kinds to sponsor Living Classrooms in their communities, commenting that "the success of today's youth will be the measure of the Medal of Honor recipients' sacrifice."

"Trees are a natural symbol of strength," Brady said. "And conservation is the essence of our country's future."

AMERICAN FORESTS organized the planting to give children visiting Arlington National Cemetery a way to learn about history and nature. The Arbor Day planting also launches AMERICAN FORESTS' campaign to offer Living Classrooms education programs to schools and communities across the country. Well over 100 schoolchildren joined dignitaries in planting the trees, including students from Raymond Elementary in the District of Columbia, Nottingham Elementary in Arlington, Virginia, and Spellman Elementary in Cheverly, Maryland. Special note was made of a group of students from Potter Road Elementary in Buffalo, New York, who traveled to Arlington to participate. They are part of Project 2000, an effort by students who will graduate in 2000 to plant that number of trees before they finish high school. Two students from Buffalo, Ed and Adam, said they "like to plant trees to help the earth because if we don't, then we can't breathe."

The next phase of this program will be to make Living Classrooms available to schools in the hometowns of each of the 3,394 Medal of Honor recipients. The first tree in each Living Classroom will be provided free to local sponsors. AMERICAN FORESTS hopes to have the initial trees planted this year and all these Living Classrooms completed in five years.

The National Living Classroom was planted around a memorial to General Robert Philip Kearny, who was awarded the Kearny Cross, predecessor to the Medal of Honor. The trees will later be transplanted through the grounds where they will serve as a resource for the thousands of school groups that visit the cemetery every year. A national public service campaign, including televised ads featuring former President George Bush, will spread information about the program and recruit sponsors for local Living Classrooms.

Organizations, corporations, and individuals interested in sponsoring a Living Classroom or obtaining a booklet describing the program and trees available for planting should call 800/320-TREE.
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Author:Falconer, John
Publication:American Forests
Date:Jul 1, 1994
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