One of our great community assets, Patriot Lake, is in need of some love and thoughtful care.

Many of us remember the ethereal sound of “Taps” being played into the quiet air by buglers, one at a time, stationed at points around the lake. These points became the memorials to the three sites of tragedy during 9/11. The very substantial granite memorial states that “WE SHALL NEVER FORGET.” Flowers were planted, words were said, it was understood that a sort of perpetual care would be undertaken.

Well, I guess we have fallen somewhat short of fulfilling the promise of that day as far as some of the commemorative aspects go.

Picture another scene and hear the sounds; a jogger huffs along trying to get in a desired number of laps; a child squeals with delight first in catching the fish, then from holding the fish and then releasing it back into the lake. Dogs strut proudly and investigate the dog park, while a cacophony of laughter and excited chatter comes from Imagination Station. Babies in strollers take in the scene while toddlers weave crazily, trying or not even trying to stay on the six-foot-wide path. People are diving and leaping in volleyball pits; cricket players have a good time of it with their friends; all the while, the aroma of barbecue settles in from the picnic spaces. Couples stroll, lost in each other; folks meditate on the grass, benches, or near the aura of the Great Willow Tree, perhaps reading a book from the library. Gardeners feel and smell the earthiness of their raised plant beds as they nurture their crops in the Community Garden.

However, the “physical” Patriot Lake area has fallen on hard times. Memorial trees, paid for in remembrance of loved ones, have become victims of severe weather and vandalism. Along with the trees, many memorial plaques have been vandalized. Memorial gardens, including some that were dedicated on that somber day of 9/11 remembrance, have become overgrown and unkempt. The Galloway Public Works Department does a great job of cutting and trimming around the area, but they are not responsible for these well-intentioned but neglected dedication sites.

The call goes out to all of you then: If you are interested in being part of a Patriot Lake maintenance team for whatever time and talent you can provide, please contact Go Green Galloway via the information below. You don’t even have to live in Galloway to volunteer, you may come to enjoy the space from another town!

Go Green Galloway will be ready to assist in the effort to restore Patriot Lake to dignity, beauty and potential. The site was conceived and implemented as a native ecosystem; having a wildlife habitat portion at one end, using no chemicals on the slopes that would foul the water, as well as specifying native plants. Since then, invasive and non-native plants have arrived intentionally and unintentionally, providing little to no sustenance value to birds, butterflies, bees and other beneficial native organisms. This has to be at least partially remedied.

Even our very iconic and photogenic massive willow tree, the site of many weddings and other events happy or commemorative, is in decline and will not be with us for long without some help.

That great tree, and the national tragedy of 9/11, speak to us about community, strength, mortality, vigilance, happiness, sadness and the value of memories. Patriot Lake and its surroundings are all of those things. Please, offer up your help for this very special place!

Go Green Galloway is a volunteer organization dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint of Galloway through the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation, environmental education and the implementation of sustainable practices. We always welcome new volunteer members. Contact us at gogreengalloway12@gmail.com or call Mary at 609-742-7076. Also be sure to like our Facebook page.

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