Another Memorial Day has come and gone and with it another balloon release.
Three years ago, members of the whale watching community in Los Angeles sent emails and made calls in an attempt to stop Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes from releasing balloons as part of their Memorial Day service. The cemetery overlooks the Pacific Ocean on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and is surrounded on three sides by water. It’s a beautiful location and also one of the worst places imaginable to release balloons since the vast majority of them end up landing in the ocean.
In 2010, I wrote an impassioned plea on Ocean Wild Things called, Thoughts on Memorial Day and balloons, hoping to rally more people to send emails and make calls asking staff at the cemetery to reconsider their Memorial Day plans. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful, but our efforts didn’t go unnoticed and the park stopped releasing balloons the next two years. So you can imagine how disappointed I was to find out on Facebook through the whale watching community that Green Hills Memorial Park released balloons again this year.
After rereading my last call to action, I stand by what I said back then (click here for the full post):
There are so many ways to honor the soldiers who have made the greatest sacrifice of all for our country…their lives. Some Memorial Day ceremonies will include musical performances, aerial fly-overs and parades to give people an opportunity to give thanks in a more spectacular way. And while no action may seem big enough considering the price they paid, it’s truly the personal heartfelt sentiments of gratitude that count.
But is it necessary to release balloons? Absolutely not. Releasing balloons on Memorial Day along the coast eventually equates to honoring the death of our soldiers with the death of marine life. The very brief action of releasing balloons leads to long-term consequences once those balloons fall from the sky and end up in the ocean as trash. And what is a balloon anyway? It’s just a piece of plastic full of air. Hardly something worthy of honoring our fallen soldiers.
So I’m asking everyone again to please take a moment and send Green Hills Memorial Park an email asking them to stop releasing balloons on Memorial Day out of respect for our oceans and local marine life. It’s probably easiest to just send a quick note using the contact form on their website. Some people have also been posting comments on the Green Hills Memorial Park Facebook page, but it looks like it’s not a very active page so the website may be a better bet. Or feel free to do both. Let’s put a stop to this mass littering event once and for all!
(Note: The photo is of creepy, smiling balloons spotted by a captain during a whale watching trip. Thankfully, this balloon story had a happy ending because we stopped and fished them out. But alas, most balloon stories don’t end well.)