Former United States president Richard Nixon once said, “The public lands represent, in a sense, the breathing space of the nation.”

For National Public Lands Day, the 528th Sustainment Brigade (Airborne) and the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security joined the Environmental Division to create a breathing space on Fort Bragg — a memorial garden at Survivor Outreach Services.

According to urban forester Julia Love, the SOS was an ideal site for this year’s National Public Lands Day observance because of its visibility and value to Fort Bragg. SOS provides education, activities and support for Families who have experienced the loss of a Soldier, so the garden is symbolic of the program’s mission.

“What a great way to show support for our surviving Family members – with a perennial garden,” Love noted.  “We wanted to make the area a refuge and a beautiful, tranquil place to visit.”

The 528th Sustainment Brigade and DPTMS were ideal participants, too. They are both Green Boot certified agencies and they used the National Public Lands Day event as an opportunity to further promote resource stewardship and environmental awareness. The Green Boot Program is a means for units to connect with the true cost of installation operations and to identify and implement ways to enhance their missions through conservation.

The Environmental Division received a grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation and the Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program to pursue the garden project. On Sept. 28, Soldiers and Family members from the brigade and civilian personnel from DPTMS removed invasive Bermuda grass from three beds and installed purple muhly grass, gaura, veronica, little bluestem grass and prairie grass.

“We’re all so proud to do anything we can to help the Fort Bragg community,” said Maj. Caprissa Brown-Slade, brigade executive officer. “Opportunities such as National Public Lands Day raise awareness about resource conservation throughout the unit.”

“Service projects build camaraderie and morale among the Soldiers,” added Sgt. Tyrell Kerney, the brigade’s Green Boot Program coordinator. “Their efforts show the importance of lending one’s personal time to help the community and the Soldiers learn to pass environmental awareness forward to their Families.”

Several Soldiers enlisted their children, relatives and friends to assist at the event.

Michael Lynch, Gary Barnes, Mike Deveault and Patrick Trotter of DPTMS all rolled up their sleeves to plant and mulch.

“National Public Lands Day is a wonderful way to come outside, spend some time out of the office and help beautify Fort Bragg,” said Barnes, a security manager in DPTMS.

As a result of their efforts, the aesthetics of SOS were transformed. “The garden really gave the facility a facelift,” said manager Charlotte Watson, SOS program manager.

These Soldiers, Families and civilians demonstrate the community spirit at Fort Bragg. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received. Each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”