Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wildflowers for Lady Bird

All the news programs today are reporting on the funeral service for Lady Bird Johnson. I feel sad and nostalgic myself as this is one First Lady I actually met and spent a memorable couple of hours with. I wrote about it back in May when the teachers in our district (conference) spent an afternoon at the JFK Library. Little did I realize then that she would not be long for this world. I've seen other First Ladies (Mamie Eisenhower, Pat Nixon, Barbara Bush, Laura Bush) but never in such a personal, intimate way as going through the JFK Library with Lady Bird and hearing first hand some of her reflections about one of the sad days in our history.

Besides that memor- able visit, what stands out to me about Mrs. Johnson was her love for natural beauty. Her project to beautify the highways across America by planting wildflowers along the roadsides and flowers at toll booths, etc. may be something we take for granted now, but I appreciate it, when I think about it.

If you've ever driven down route 95 on the East Coast in the spring and summer, for example, you will see whole stretches of highway median thick with cosmos and brown-eyed susans and daisies...beautiful in their bright simplicity. That's part of her legacy that has affected millions of people over the years.

Some might think it's not as big a deal as, say anti-drug programs and literacy programs. And, perhaps, in a way it isn't. But I think there's a healing place for wildflowers in everyone's life. Lady Bird Johnson knew that, and saw to it that something was done about it.

I've often wondered what cause I would take up if I were in a position to affect millions of lives in a public way. How do you choose? How do you determine what will be your signature concern? In our private lives, I'm sure we have pet projects. Maybe what you do for your vacation, or avocation, is it. But is that something you could/would take to the nation? For all my wondering, I still haven't figured out what I'd do. Not that I need to, as I don't foresee needing to make that decision. Perhaps it's enough to know that as a teacher I'm affecting hundreds of young people, some of who might someday grow up to have the opportunity I only sometimes think about.


Sunny said...

"I've often wondered what cause I would take up if I were in a position to affect millions of lives in a public way." Me too. Of course, it is nothing that I'll ever have to concern myself with either. I'm with you too in the impact we can make with our lives as they are though. And, I really believe that what we do as "regular" people is a reflection of what we'd do if we were rich or famous or something.
That Lady Bird-she was a good one.
I've read some about her. Impressive.

Inland Empire Girl said...

I am thanful for Lady Bird and her focus on the wildflowers.

Heidi said...

What a beautiful homage to place pictures of (wild) flowers in your entry about Lady Bird.