Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy 100th Lady Bird Johnson

Lady Bird Johnson.  One of the most
important environmental figures from
the 1960's.
In discussing the modern environmental movement, one person sometimes is left out of the conversation--Lady Bird Johnson.  Tomorrow would have been her 100th birthday.  She was the wife of President Lyndon Johnson who served in office after the assassination of President Kennedy.  She became active in environmental issues, particularly highway beautification.

I was born in 1961 and times were very different in the 1960's.  Litter was everywhere.  It was common for people to throw trash out of car windows or on the street.  This was a time before there were common garbage containers or home recycling.  In the midst of this, fast food was emerging and the packaging exacerbated the issue.

Mrs. Johnson was involved in a number of initiatives during her husband's time as president, including advocating for the Civil Rights Movement.  But she is best known for her work on a national beautification program.  She focused her efforts on the national highways which were lined with trash in highly trafficked areas.  In addition, she worked to limit billboards along roadways and advocated for the Highway Beautification Act (sometimes called Lady Bird's Bill).

She also sought to plant native flowering plants along roads to improve the overall experience for drivers and passengers.  If you see a patch of flowers blooming on a trash-free roadway, you have Lady Bird Johnson to thank.  There is no doubt that her efforts helped to educate a generation of Americans on the importance of trash removal and the aesthetic role of nature in our every day life.

Her most famous quote is, "Where flowers bloom, so does hope."  So true.

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