In 1945, with victory in Europe and Japan within sight, individuals and organizations all across the country united in a nationwide effort to preserve 5,000 acres of old-growth redwoods as the National Tribute Grove. The effort, led by Save the Redwoods League and aided by the Garden Club of America, would honor the 16.1 million men and women who served in America’s Armed Forces during World War II.
Thousands of people and organizations from all 48 states and the territories of Alaska and Hawaii contributed to help fund the National Tribute Grove in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, with the name of each donor recorded in a “Golden Book” in the National Archives, along the names of the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen their contributions honor.
The grove was dedicated 65 years ago, on September 25, 1949. At the dedication ceremony, Newton Drury, who was then director of the National Park Service after having led the League for many years, spoke for all Americans when he said the National Tribute Grove was to be known as an ever-living “memorial of eternal gratitude, eternally expressed” to those men and women who served in the armed forces of the United States in World War II and so preserved American freedom.
According to the National Park Service, the National Tribute Grove is the largest WWII memorial in America. But, the grove was lost to near-obscurity for many years, as road changes and vegetation growth hid the marker in shadows.
The grove marker was recently unveiled and rededicated in a new location in the park’s day use area, so that this unparalleled monument to our veterans will be remembered and appreciated for generations to come.
Today, in honor of Veteran’s Day, national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands are offering free entry, so take advantage if you can. Have you been to the National Tribute Grove? Let me know in the comments section below.