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Renewal and Remembrance: Ole Miss Landscape Director spends Day of Service at Arlington National Cemetery

Image Courtesy of University of Mississippi

This story was written by Edwin B. Smith, University of Mississippi

The man responsible for maintaining the University of Mississippi‘s main campus as one of the nation’s most beautiful recently joined other professionals from across the country to volunteer at an annual day of service at Arlington National Cemetery.

Jeff McManus, UM director of landscape services, participated in “Renewal and Remembrance,” organized by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. This is the 23rd year that industry professionals have come together to help care for the grounds of the national burial site, which serves as the final resting spot for more than 400,000 military service men and women and their spouses.

“This year was very special for me because I was joined by my son and nephew in the work at our nation’s cemetery,” McManus said. “The day allowed us time to reflect on the meaning of sacrifice, courage and patriotism.

“And, as we moved among the headstones during our work, we became familiar with many young men and women who gave their lives for our country.”

McManus was among more than 400 volunteers who spent time mulching, upgrading sprinklers, cabling and installing lightning protection for the trees, pruning, planting, liming and aerating the soil. They also installed and maintained pavers throughout the grounds.

In total, NALP members helped to enhance more than 200 acres of the vast grounds at the cemetery, as well as parts of Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemeteries.

“There are so few volunteer openings to serve in ‘Renewal and Remembrance’ and I am humbled to have been a part of both the 2018 and 2019 events,” said McManus, an executive board member for the Professional Grounds Management Society, which afforded him the opportunity.

“As an organization, we work to advance the health, beauty and sustainability of private and public grounds nationwide. Participating at the Arlington event is one very small way to serve one of our country’s most sacred burial sites and give something to those who gave their life for our freedom.”

NALP members were joined by members of the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance and the Professional Grounds Management Society.

“Our industry is proud and humbled to volunteer our services at Arlington National Cemetery every year,” said Carol Keeling, interim CEO for NALP. “While the cemetery is beautifully maintained all year long, it is an honor for our industry professionals to lend their expertise and skills to enhancing the grounds.

“This service event allows the lawn and landscape industry to honor our nation’s heroes and put our professional knowledge and skills to work for good.”

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