Liberty Memorial Benefits from PLANET Day of Service
When the fighting was done after World War I, there were 37 million combat and civilian casualties. Citizens of Kansas City raised $2.5 million in only two weeks in their honor to build the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. Two hundred thousand people attended the dedication in 1921. President Calvin Coolidge delivered the dedication speech when the museum opened to the public in 1926.
The depression came, followed by World War ll and another 48 million casualties. World War I and its veterans were forgotten. By the 1990’s, the memorial and the museum, once the pride of Kansas City and the nation, had fallen into disrepair. Its grounds grew over with weeds. City engineers worried that its underlying structure could fail causing collapse. Again, concerned citizens raised millions to rebuild the memorial site. It reopened in November 2006 as the National World War I Museum -- the only official museum dedicated to World War l.
PLANET (Professional Landcare Network) is an association that develops and maintains educational and service programs for 4,000 member lawn care, landscape management, design/build and interior plantscaping companies. They have sponsored “Renewal and Remembrance” at Arlington National Cemetery for the past 12 years. Every year, three to four hundred PLANET members come from across the nation to Washington D.C. to donate their time and services to the national cemetery. They mulch, cable trees with lightening protection, prune, lime, plant and aerate. To date, a cumulative total of five million dollars has been given to this program.
Following the success of the Arlington National Cemetery project, Jason Cupp, President of PLANET, gave a national radio address earlier this year suggesting that PLANET members donate their gifts for the beautification of historic sites in their home towns in honor of Earth Day. The result was the PLANET Day of Service
Highland Outdoors Volunteers
Doug Obermann, Turf and Ornamental Product Manager for PBI/Gordon Corporation, learned about PLANET’s new local “Day of Service” program planned for Earth Day. He immediately thought of sponsoring Kansas City’s local treasure -- the Liberty Memorial. Highland Outdoor, of whom Cupp is Chief Executive Officer, immediately agreed to co-sponsor the project. Together they met with the memorial facility director, Russell Gardner.
Russell Gardner has managed the Liberty Memorial’s 26 acre site as well as the museum’s buildings, heating, lighting and the memorial’s eternal torch since the facility re-opened in 2006. “When Doug called me and said he had a group of lawn and landscape professionals who wanted to donate their time and money to the park, I welcomed them,” Gardner said.
The Liberty Memorial complex includes dozens of acres of turfgrass and nearly two acres of trees and shrubs. These grounds are under a maintenance contract with RS Unlimited Landscaping, Inc. “RS does a great job keeping turf weed free, mowed and fertilized but the budget from the parks department is seldom sufficient to meet all the needs for maintenance on these grounds. The sprinkler system really needs to be tuned up and adjusted,” explains Gardner. “The tree boxes need mulch and the list goes on.”
Ryan Bauer, President of RS Unlimited had already registered for the PLANET Day of Service and was on hand to meet with Cupp and Obermann to discuss needs for the memorial. Both Bauer and Gardner were excited to receive professional volunteers for some of their most-needed projects. “For the War Memorial this means we have people who know what they are doing, accomplishing work that is not in this year’s budget. We are thankful for this help,” says Gardner.
After a tour of the memorial grounds, Obermann and Cupp decided that they would solicit help for irrigation repairs, mulching and liming the frontage acres of turf for spring green-up and cleaning up the wooded areas along the east side of the property.
Cupp said, “This is a perfect project for my exterior design/building firm here in Kansas City. We all spend our lives beautifying outdoor spaces. Why not give something special to help beautify this Kansas City landmark?” Cupp continued, “We plan to invite our clients and their families to come and help us at the museum. This is an enriching effort for an entire family.”
Highland Outdoor and PBI/Gordon have promises of local assistance from Signature Landscape to assess the sprinkler system needs and Helena Chemical who will facilitate the delivery of one ton of Kelly’s pelletized lime for the turf. Cover Master KC has donated the use of a mulch blower and two men to run it. The mulch has been donated by PBI/Gordon and Highland Outdoor.
Much-needed tree trimming and pruning will be provided by Arbor Master Tree Service. Grass Pad Inc. is exploring the possibility of replacing 14 Sugar Maples, 18 Swamp White Oaks and one Japanese Lilac Tree. All trees must be historically accurate and of an appropriate size to fit in with existing trees.
Volunteers from PBI
PBI/Gordon will also have employee-owner volunteers on site to help with tree and brush clean-up. One member of the PBI/Gordon volunteer crew is accountant Renee Petrovich.
“I volunteered because I come from a military family. It means a great deal to me,” said Renee. Her family’s military service stretches from the Civil War to the current war in Iraq. She has had family members in World War II, Desert Storm, Korea, Vietnam and her nephew recently returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq.
Each volunteer will receive a free ticket for a tour of the National World War I Museum, and a ride up the 217 foot tower overlooking the Kansas City skyline. It’s a spectacular state-of-the-art museum that places you right in the World War I trenches.
Visitors enter the museum across a glass bridge above a field of 9,000 poppies representing the 9 million soldiers who died in World War I. They also represent the only living thing that existed in the “no man zone” between the allied and enemy trenches. Bodies and phosphorus from the cannon shells fertilized the ground so heavily that only poppies grew there. This is why today, when you give on Veteran’s day, you receive a poppy.
This museum brings the causes of World War l to life, and fosters thoughts on the ethics, values and decision making of conflict resolution and on the human cost of war itself. Utilizing the memorial and museum for education keeps it relevant for generations to come and may save millions of lives.
PBI Sales RepRon Terwilliger hard at work.
“I think the PLANET Day of Service project is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community,” said Petrovich. “There will be over 20 people from PBI/Gordon’s office staff donating their time at the World War l Museum; keeping the grounds green is honoring those who served in World War I. It’s the right thing to do,” she concluded.
The PLANET Day of Service is planned to be an annual event, “We hope this will grow year after year,” says Cupp, “Nationally, we have 240 lawn and landscape companies registered to do a Day of Service in their home towns. This is the industry’s chance to beautify their local community’s special sites,” explains Cupp.
Highland Outdoor is a high-end residential design/build, landscape and maintenance company serving the Midwest, with its corporate headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. For more information on Highland Outdoor, visit www.highland-outdoor.com.
Both companies are active members of PLANET – The Professional Landcare Network – the national association for 4,000 lawn care, landscape maintenance, design/build and interior plantscaping companies. For more information on PLANET, visit www.landcarenetwork.com
Mary Ellen Scheib