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A Duty We Owe

A Duty We Owe image
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The following, taken from an address by State Commissioner of Forestry J. T. Kothroek, of I'a., to the public schools of Lancaster, Pa., sbould be read by every person able to read. And as Friday is Arbor Day, it might do well to act upon it : "Lesa tlian three centnries ago, in the providenceof God.ourancestors feil heiis oí a land which was not only well watered and fertile, bnt well wooded. It is fair to sa}7 that on the eastern slope of the continent there was iio second area eqnal in size to Pennsylvania which possessed resources so varied and that bid fair to last so long. So rich was our inheritance that we feit we could never come to want or see the end of our resources. American extravaganee has become a bywörd among other nations, and Pennsylvania is in no respect behind otbers in the sisterhood of states. But already practically 75 per cent of our state is destitute of real forest growtli and to meet the wants of a rapidly increasing population we are now importiug lumber. Not only tliis, but from about an eighth of the land which we have cleared we have so exhausted the fertiüty that it can nolonger be made remunera ti ve in agriculture. In at least one county of our state we have the word of the presiding judge tliat the barren hillsides are being deserted bj' their population because the"y can no longer wring a living from the impoverished lands. Thus far mankind has derived its food from the soil of the water. In the statehouse of Massachusetts there hangs a figure of a codfish, to iudicate that from the sea that great commonwealth derives a large part of its support. Our waters are practicaliy barren, and our strength must come from the soil. I desire now to leave a question with young people. It is this : If on the one hand we doublé our population in about thirty years, and if, on the other hand, we continue to make so much of our soil poorer every year, how will those who come after us obtain a living? Bear in niind tbat when you ronder the soil incapable of producing a erop you ent off the head of the State. Thirty years and more ago our nation's life was in danger. 1 know you love the dearold flagaround which so manj' of us rallied. I know that there is not a boy or girl before me but thinks the red, white, am1 blue of "Old Glory" are the very brightest and best colors that fly in the breeze of any land. lts ampie folds niaikthe thousand of schoolhouses where you are taught to become good men and women and patriotic citizens. But you are now ealled upon lo save the State from wasting its strength, and from becoming weak and poor, when itshould bestrong and rich. God never allowed a cbild to be a citizen without providing sometliing for him or lier to do for public good. Every citizen should in some way aid in making every acre of the State as prodnctive as it can be made. Of all things a uaeless soul and a useless acre are the most useless. I cali upon you young people here, who are thinking all ready what you will do when you are grovvn up, to resolve that you will be patriots, and help make the land in which you live as near a paradise as you can. You will be wiser if you begin at once to do some good thing. Here is a chance. Every tree that is planted helps to save water for the uses of the people. It helps to restrain the flaods which destroy life and property. It helps to keep the air in pure condition for you and your associates. It helps to moderate the climate so that crops rnay grow and fruits may mature. If, then, you plant a tree, you increase the wealth and strength of the Cominonwealth and at the same time you aid in husbanding its resources. Is not this a worthy work? But it is so small a thing, you may say ! True, but life is made up of sinall things. How many really great things can anyone do? The great acts of any man's life are few. It is a mulitude of small deeds which makes lite important. Nebraska was once a treeless área. Now it is a well-wooded State. This is almost entirely due to the Arbor Day planting which Seeretary Morton started a score of years agp. His example lias spread from state to state, until over almost the entire Union a day is set apart every year for the purpose of tree planting. European countries are taking up with the idea. Jt has spread to the isles of the ocean. If we except Christmas and Easter, there is probably no anniversary more widely celebrated than Arbor Day." It takes very üttte mtaniey to make Groü'e mam rtcli. ■ - ■


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Ann Arbor Courier