This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the dedication of the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, a living memorial to writer/poet Joyce Kilmer, best known for the poem, “Trees.” Kilmer was killed in action during World War I while serving in France on July 30, 1918.
In 1934, the Bozeman Bulger Post of the VFW petitioned the U.S. government to find a suitable area to serve as a monument to Kilmer. An isolated pocket of old-growth hardwood forest within the Nantahala National Forest’s Cheoah Ranger District in western North Carolina was selected. On July 30, 1936, ceremonies were conducted to honor Kilmer and dedicate the Memorial Forest to his memory. The 3,800-acre Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is now a part of the 14,000 acre Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness.
The Partners of the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, a non-profit dedicated to protecting the natural and heritage resources of the wilderness, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, are planning a 75th Anniversary celebration.
A rededication ceremony will be held at Rattler Ford campground, outside of Robbinsville, North Carolina, on July 30, 2011. This celebration will include a 5K road race through a portion of the Nantahala National Forest, exhibits highlighting the area’s rich natural and cultural heritage, guided tours of the Joyce Kilmer National Recreation Trail, and speakers highlighting both Joyce Kilmer’s life and the U.S. Forest Service’s stewardship of wilderness.
Several other activities are also planned for the 75th Anniversary, including a poetry contest sponsored by the Stecoah Valley Center and events sponsored by Graham County Travel and Tourism. Additional information on the celebration will be posted on the NC National Forests website.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
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.