This week, the U.S. Forest Service celebrates the 65th birthday of one of its most prolific workers — Smokey Bear. This afternoon in the Whitten Federal Building, area children and the public joined the agency for Smokey’s official birthday celebration, where Forest Service officials had nothing but praise for his work.
“Smokey Bear is one of the most beloved symbols in American history and his important message has been communicated to generations of Americans during the past sixty five years,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.
James Hubbard, Deputy Chief of the Forest Service for State and Private Forestry, said that even though Smokey’s been around long enough that he might be eligible to retire, there’s still lots of work to be done. With thousands of people enjoying America’s national forests every year, Smokey’s message continues to be vital.
Hank Kashdan, Associate Chief of the Forest Service, thanked the kids in attendance for the birthday cards they delivered to Smokey, and outlined Smokey’s 65-year history for the crowd — from the beginning of the Forest Service’s fire education efforts with Bambi and friends, to Smokey’s debut in 1944. Following his remarks, Forest Service employees read Smokey’s story, in both English and Spanish.
After the reading, the Alexandria Choral Society’s Children’s Choir sang the Smokey Bear Song for the crowd, and after some chanting for Smokey, he came out to join the party …
For 65 years, Smokey Bear has been there to help the Forest Service remind America: “Only you can prevent wildfire.” That’s an important reminder, considering most fires aren’t started by nature. In fact, 90% of wildfire is caused by our leaving fires unattended or coals burning. From his first day on the job, Smokey has been there to help Americans understand how their actions can affect the future of one of our most important national treasures.
Be sure to check out Smokey’s web site for more information on his history and birthday.