Historical Document Transcription

President Theodore Roosevelt

His Great interest in Arbor Day, Arboriculture, and the Forestry Cause

By virtue of special arrangement with Colonel William Loeb, Jr. Secretary to President Roosevelt, this Arbor Day Proclamation, issued April 15, 1907, is here published with the President’s facsimile autograph attached hereto. The beautiful half-tone picture of the President appearing herewith is from autograph photo presented to the editor of Vick’s Magazine through the courtesy of Colonel Loeb.

Proclamation of the President to the School Children of the United States

To the School Children of the United States:

Arbor Day (which means simply “Tree Day”) is now observed in every State in our Union mainly in the schools. At various times from January to December, but chiefly in the months of April and May, you give a day or part of a day to special exercises and perhaps to actual tree planting, in recognition of the importance of trees to us as a nation, and or what they yield in adornment, comfort, and useful products to the communities in which you live.

It is well that you should celebrate your Arbor Day thoughtfully, for within your lifetime the Nation’s need of trees will become serious. We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though, with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed: and because of that want you will reproach us, nor for what we have used, but for what we have wasted.

For the nation, as for the man or woman and the boy or girl, the road to success is the right use of what we have and the improvement of present opportunity. If you neglect to prepare yourselves now for the duties and responsibilities which will fall upon you later, if you do not learn the things which you will need to know when your school days are over, you will suffer the consequences. So any nation which in its youth lives only for the day, reaps without sowing, and consumes without husbanding, must expect the penalty of the prodigal, whose labor could with difficulty find him the bare means of life.

A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as hopeless; forests which are so used that they cannot renew themselves will soon vanish, and with them all their benefits. A true forest is not merely a storehouse full of wood, but, as it were, a factory of wood. When you help to preserve our forests or to plant new ones you are acting the part of good citizens. The value of forestry deserves, therefore, to be taught in the schools, which aim to make good citizens of you. If your Arbor Day exercise help you to realize what benefits each one of you receives from the forests, and how by your assistance these benefits may continue, they will serve a good end.

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