Renewal & Remembrance serves as meaningful time to give back to service members

Each July, lawn care and landscape professionals have the opportunity to give their time and skills to care for the grounds at Arlington National Cemetery during Renewal & Remembrance. This year, volunteers will be able to work at Arlington National Cemetery and there are additional projects at the Washington Monument on July 17, 2023.

“Renewal & Remembrance is always meaningful,” says Amy Snyder, director of public relations for Ruppert Landscape, based in Laytonsville, Maryland. “Arlington National Cemetery is hallowed ground, so to be afforded an opportunity to lend my effort to honor Americans who have sacrificed so much for our freedom is profound.”

This year’s projects include top-dressing turf, restoring irrigation, installing lightning protection on designated trees and various landscape & hardscape projects at Arlington National Cemetery. Volunteers at the Washington Monument will help install woodchips, seeding and planting.

At both locations, there will be a children’s program for the volunteers’ children to participate in.

For many of the volunteer companies, they have been coming to this event since the very start or over 10 years ago.

“The first time I participated, I didn’t really have a sense of what I was getting into until I got there,” says Adam Jones, vice president of quality assurance for Massey Services, based in Orlando, Florida. “Once I started working, I felt honored to be able to make a difference as I saw so many family members visiting their loved ones. As an example, one year I was able to assist an older gentleman whose wife was interred in the Columbarium. He was trying to take a selfie and his hands were shaking so badly and he was crying because he couldn’t do it. I offered to take the photo and he was so grateful. And that’s just one of the impactful stories I see while I’m there.”

John Janes, sales and marketing with Caterpillar, says his favorite aspect of Renewal & Remembrance is the heat, the sweat and the camaraderie. He says the event is a short opportunity to give a little to those who gave it all.

Other aspects volunteers appreciate are the transformations that occur after finishing their work and being able to make a difference for the veterans and their families.

“Having the opportunity to see so many different organizations all working together to maintain and improve a national landmark is really impressive,” Snyder says. “While we are all competitive as businesses within our industry, this event brings us all together in service of a common good. Working together and using the talent that exists in our industry makes me proud and reinforces how great it is to be part of the green industry.”

These companies also bring a number of employees with them, anywhere from 10 to 100 people.

“There are many reasons why Renewal & Remembrance is important to myself and to John Deere as a company,” says Chad Carney, go-to-market manager, B2B PLC with John Deere. “First of all, it gives us an opportunity to honor those that have served our country so bravely, especially to those that gave the ultimate sacrifice so we can be free. Secondly, we open up registration to anyone with our company that would like a chance to give back to our nation and community by getting their hands dirty right alongside our PLC customers and fellow PLC suppliers. Lastly, on a personal note, my dad was a Vietnam veteran and since he is not with us anymore, it gives me an opportunity to connect with and honor him. I feel like many of us at John Deere can share a similar personal story and connection with Renewal & Remembrance.”

Caterpillar, Massey Services and John Deere all make a point to bring some of their veteran employees to this event. Carney says their veteran volunteers are excited about the opportunity to contribute to such a significant event.

Bill Cohn, director of quality assurance for GreenUP Landscape Services, a part of Massey Services, says they try to bring at least one more veteran with them every year. Last year, they brought Rick Block, their northeast Florida regional manager who is a former Marine, and many members of his troop are buried at Arlington after an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.

“More than 270 Marines were killed instantly – the most Marines killed on the same day in history,” Block says. “When I volunteered to help at Renewal and Remembrance, the emotions came storming back. On that day back in 1983, I lost all my friends. I knew so many of these guys and their families. I have spent my whole life trying to make a difference for them – to uphold their memory and make them proud. Volunteering and working this event gave me the opportunity to do just that.”

Cohn says before attending Renewal & Remembrance, he also didn’t have a full understanding of Arlington National Cemetery. Sean Clifford, senior director of learning & development for Massey Services, adds being part of Renewal & Remembrance changes your perspective as the size and scale of the cemetery is overwhelming.

“This event is one of the most humbling experiences that will always leave you with a great sense of pride for this country,” Carney says. “Because of that, this event is unmatched, unparalleled, and should be supported in any way possible.”

Renewal & Remembrance serves as a time to put your skills to use and make an impact on iconic public spaces.

“Our industry is filled with many talented and skilled hard workers who can make an impact at the cemetery,” Jones says. “Putting that talent to work can significantly benefit the renewal of the property. We need more companies to send their talented team members to this event and spend a day serving their country. I promise you will come back with a renewed sense of pride.”

There is no fee to participate, but we do invite you to join us for the reception and dinner on Sunday evening, July 16, at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel. There is a $75 per person fee for the reception and dinner. Register here.