Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson dies

The former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, who forever branded "Keep America Beautiful" in my mind as a child, has died.

CNN has just announced her passing at age 94. PBS provided a biography, a decent overview of her accomplishments. A snip:

In early 1965, she began a series of efforts to raise public and private dollars to plant trees and flowers to improve the tourist areas and the neighborhoods in and around the nation's capital. She took a $40,000 donation from the Democratic National Party to plant 400 dogwoods and hundreds of flowers across the Potomac River from the capital. The park was named the Lady Bird Johnson Park in 1968.
All her work in DC served as prelude for the first major legislative campaign ever launched by a First Lady, the Highway Beautification Act of 1965. As Lady Bird and Lyndon Johnson traveled back and forth between the capital and Texas, she had noticed that unsightly billboards and junkyards were spreading all along the nation's roads. Lady Bird firmly believed in making the roadsides more lovely and protecting the natural flora and fauna of the nation.
Lady Bird saw her conservation and beautification as part of President Johnson's Great Society.
After a series of diagnostic tests, The Guardian reported on June 29 that she was released "to rest comfortably at home" after a six-day hospital stay in Austin:
"After a week of observation and tests, the doctors released Mrs. Johnson to go home,'' said family spokesman Neal Spelce. "Because of her stroke in 2002, her family and physicians always operate with caution."
Let us bow our heads for a First Lady who reminded us that America can only remain "beautiful" if we, the people, do it.

UPDATE: Typos corrected.