National Observance: Hug a tree for Arbor Day

FRIDAY, APRIL 29: In 1872, the global community was hardly “thinking green,” yet one man—Julius Morton—was already writing with fury about environmental stewardship, when he instituted Arbor Day. That first year, Morton’s holiday saw the planting of 1 million trees; each year since, Arbor Day has grown in popularity. (Get facts, info, ideas and more at

Today, Americans get their hands dirty while planting and caring for the nation’s trees and forests. However, dates for this worldwide observance vary across the hemispheres; and some countries celebrate entire tree-themed weeks.

Julius Sterling Morton lived in Detroit, surrounded by nature and trees, when he and his wife made the journey with other pioneers to the Nebraska Territory in 1854. Once in Nebraska, it was easy for Morton to spread environmental information and his passion for trees; after all, he was editor of Nebraska’s first newspaper. (Wikipedia has details.)

Morton was right about the importance of trees, too: It’s been proven that trees improve quality of life in any community by absorbing harmful pollutants, protecting us from excessive winds, reducing noise pollution, moderating climate, conserving water and much more. (Kids can learn more from the Department of Natural Resources, or get craft ideas from Kaboose.)

If you think there are enough trees around your community already, American Forests may disagree: American Forests concludes that our nationwide tree deficit is more than 634 million trees.

Originally published at, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email