Arbor Day was started in Nebraska City, Nebraska by J. Sterling Morton. From what I could find, it is actually a state holiday in Nebraska! The point was that there weren't enough trees in Nebraska when pioneers started moving there, so he as a newspaperman started pushing the idea that people needed to plant more trees. Eventually he became the secretary of the Nebraska Territory and pushed his agenda from that role, as well.
The first state-wide Arbor Day was celebrated in 1872. For many years it was April 22, which was Morton's birthday. The US government made it a national day from 1972. However, each state celebrates it differently due to seasonal requirements.
In 2001 the Arbor Day Foundation ran a poll to decide the United States' favorite tree. I don't remember that, but the winner was the Oak.
For a list of all state Arbor Days and all sorts of other information, visit www.arborday.org/arborday
If you can't plant a tree (if you live in an apartment like me, for example) here's the next best thing...some of the most famous trees in US popular culture.
|Magical Apple Trees in The Wizard of OZ|
|Walt Kelly's beautiful swamp trees in POGO|
|Charlie Brown's Kite-Eating Tree|
|Charlie Brown's Christmas|
Tree in PEANUTS
|Apple-Pie Tree at McDonalds|
|The Whomping Willow from Harry Potter|
by Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.