The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago has donated a section of its lakefront property to create a flower garden in honor of America’s veterans, active duty soldiers, their spouses and most especially Gold Star parents who have lost a child while serving in the military. On Thursday, May 19, soldiers, vets and their families are invited to spend the entire day at the Aquarium to help plant flowers outside and then enjoy the Shedd’s aquatic life inside.

‘The Shedd Aquarium is looking for a few good men and women to volunteer half a day to help create a new garden at the aquarium honoring fellow veterans and Gold Star mothers,’ the Shedd’s spokespeople announced, ‘Shedd values the service veterans have given our country and proudly supports the hiring of returning service members and military spouses. Now we’d like to expand our reach.’

All Chicago-area veterans and active duty soldiers are invited to spend the day as part of the Shedd’s ‘Gardener Brigades’.

They are teams of volunteers enlisted to dig and plant a garden on the Aquarium’s north lawn facing Lake Michigan. In October, vets planted 30,000 Spring-blooming flowers colored yellow, gold and white to honor Gold Star mothers.

This week, volunteers will plant flowers colored red, white, blue and gold to honor all of America’s military veterans. Organizers provide all the tools necessary to participate including lunch and admission to the Shedd Aquarium. The day will be broken up into two shifts. The first will work from 8-11am with volunteers admitted into the Aquarium in the afternoon. The second shift is from 1-4pm with participants eligible to enjoy the Shedd’s aquatic life in the morning. Lunch will be provided from 11-1 so that both shifts can mingle and meet each other in between.

IAVA Vet Together
One participating veterans organization in Thursday’s flower planting event is the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). The group regularly holds or sponsors local programs like the Shedd’s flower planting in towns and cities all across America. They call them ‘Vet Togethers’.

A recent announcement from IAVA invites veterans to participate saying, “There’s a cool event near you coming up soon. Come on out to Shedd Aquarium on Thursday, May 19, to spend the day planting Spring-blooming bulbs all to help create a special garden honoring veterans and Gold Star mothers.”

According to the IAVA website, ‘Vet Togethers are community. Veterans and supporters share in a common goal: to (re)build camaraderie. Driven by our growing member base, Vet Togethers boost local leaders who foster a strong peer network and keep conversations going with every monthly event. Vet Togethers ensure that connections are forged whether you’re a veteran transitioning home, a retiree looking for a way to give back or a student hoping to engage with your peers.’

The Shedd Aquarium flower planting will take place Thursday, May 19 from 8am to 4pm. If the outdoor event is rained out, the following day (Friday, May 20) has been set aside as a make-up day. The Shedd Aquarium is located at 1200 S. Lakeshore Drive in Chicago. For more information, visit SheddAquarium.org.