At the Earth Day 2002 Ceremony at the Berry Hill Mansion in Frankfort, Kentucky, the Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission awarded the "EQC Lifetime of Service Award" to KRC Director Tom FitzGerald. The acceptance statement is reprinted below and as an attachment.
I am honored and humbled to receive this second Lifetime of Service award - honored because it is given by the Environmental Quality Commission, a body whose members have well-served this state for many years in matters of environmental policy, and humbled to be the first to receive the award after Janie Kaelin Douglass, whose all-too-short life exemplified volunteer advocacy on behalf of the public and environment.
I have had the privilege of working in this Commonwealth on behalf of the public in environmental matters for the past thirty years - twenty-four of them in environmental law. I have been blessed many times over to have had mentors that demonstrated strength and wisdom - - Rev. Don and Nancy Graham, John Rosenberg, Mark Morgan, Oscar Geralds, Phillip Shepherd, Russ Barnett, Hank Graddy, and to have shared many battles with and learned from individuals that showed unflagging courage against great odds - Joan Robinett, Patty Wallace, Ruth Colvin, Hazel King, Renee Butterworth, Winnie Hepler and others. I have been blessed also to know career servants - Leah MacSwords, Kathy Hargraves, Hugh Archer, Iris Skidmore, Don Dott, and others who have toiled for years for short pay in the interest of protecting the public and the environment.
As we celebrate the earth today, we note the passage of and celebrate also the lives of those who by their devotion made this earth a better place - Ruth Housek, Janie Douglass, Sherri Evans among them.
I'd like to share with you a prayer written by Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children's Defense Fund, that I often rely on:
Lord, help me not to be a taker but a tender, Help me not to be a whiner but a worker, Help me not to be a getter but a giver, Help me not to be a hindrance but a help, Help me not to be a critic but a catalyst for good.
It is an honor for me to share this program with a number of individuals and organizations who are "catalysts for good" - those engaged in teaching - from the creative use of the natural world as a classroom at the elementary, high school and college level, to community outreach - - from coordinating local environmental activism to coordinating efforts by communities to learn more about their pollution problems and to affect local policy thereby.
These many-faceted efforts at education exemplify the best hope for this state. For on my best days, over the course of thirty years of trench warfare on environmental issues, all that I have ever accomplished as an environmental lawyer has been to stop harm from occurring. On bad days, I have done less than that. It is the educators - those who teach by instruction and by example, who change hearts and shape values. And it is in the realm of values that enduring progress and enduring change occurs.
Let me close with my appreciation to the current and former Commissioners, to Aloma, to Horace, and others, and their dedicated staff for all of their hard work, and for their kind recognition to KRC and our work, by sharing a reflection of Reinhold Niebuhr that provides us perhaps with some perspective:
Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true and beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint; therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.
Each day brings us a new opportunity to engage in the process of restoring environmental sanity - - of practicing and rewarding moral responsibility, compassion and civic engagement; of withholding support for the politics of short-term profit and self-interest. As parents, as neighbors, as friends, as voters, as workers, as consumers, as citizens we wield a great power and carry a profound responsibility to each other and to those that come after us. Let us recommit ourselves to that task with love and humility.
Tom FitzGerald April 22, 2002 Frankfort, Ky