Happy fall! Finally, we have some cool weather. In the month of November, I often think about being thankful. I try to focus on what I am thankful for and the people I should reach out to in order to express my thanks. On a larger scale, I wonder whom we would all like to thank or celebrate. I recently read an opinion piece in the New York Times asking who deserves a ticker-tape parade and why. After reading some choices that the editorial board and readers suggested—Chelsey "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who saved 155 lives after landing a commercial jet safely on the Hudson River in 2009, Katherine Johnson, who supported John Glenn's Discovery Mission in 1962 with critical calculations, and even animal rights activist and environmentalist Jane Goodall—I could not help doing some more research about ticker-tape parades and pondering who I think deserves such an honor.
As you can see from the articles linked below, the first ticker-tape parade in New York City was held in 1886 and was an impromptu honor for the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. Since that time, there have been over 200 ticker-tape parades in the city, with the mayor serving as the ultimate decision-maker on who or what deserves a ticker-tape parade. Through my research, I learned that ticker-tapes are no longer used in the stock market, so people normally drop shredded paper or confetti onto the parade. I also learned that it is not just New York sports teams that are honored with parades, and that ticker-tape parades are thrown all over the United States. Recent ticker-tape parades have cost over a million dollars, taking into account security and cleanup costs as well as the paper used in a parade, which is estimated to be equivalent to 75 trees.
So, given the cost, environmental impact, and hours of lost work by paraders and parade watchers, who do you think deserves a ticker-tape parade and why? My choice is Jane Goodall. Jane spent her early life fascinated by animals and nature. I have read books about Jane, read books written by Jane and even dressed as Jane for Halloween one year. I have had the opportunity to hear her speak, twice, many years ago. During one of those events, she shared a story about when she was a child. She spent hours hiding in a hen house so that she could see how the hens laid their eggs. While she was hiding, her parents began frantically searching for her and eventually the family, neighbors and police joined the search. When she finally came out of the hen house and her mother found her, their discussion was not about whether or not Jane should have hidden, but rather about what happened and why. It was such an exciting discovery for Jane. She also told a story about the time she was fascinated by earthworms and took them into her bed. When her mother found the worms, her mother explained that if Jane kept them in her bed, the worms would die. So, she and her mother walked the worms back to the garden. After hearing her speak, I remember hoping that I could be a parent who valued and validated the excitement of learning in children before caring about the mess or disruption that authentic investigations require.
As a teenager, Jane worked to save enough money to travel to Africa and eventually began to work with Louis Leakey, an archeologist and paleontologist. She observed chimpanzees in Tanzania for many years and was the first person to name the chimpanzees as she observed them. She was also the first to record chimpanzees using a stick to pull termites from a termite mound. This observation helped us to understand that chimpanzees can use objects as tools just as humans do. Jane went on to found the Jane Goodall Institute and Roots and Shoots programs for students. She served as the United Nations
Ambassador of Peace and has spent much of her time in her later years speaking around the globe to raise environmental awareness and funds for her institute and other charitable organizations.
So, Jane Goodall is my choice; who is yours, and why?