How do you thank a man who took it upon himself to landscape the Lincoln Memorial during last month’s federal government shutdown?
With a chain saw, of course, and a few extra bucks to cover city parking tickets.
A month after Charleston, S.C., resident Chris Cox was spotted mowing the lawn around the Lincoln Memorial, the man who dubbed himself the “first member of the Memorial Militia Group” will return to the monument to accept a chain saw and roughly $1,800 collected by a charity group’s online fundraiser.
“We like to do something for the person who did something good,” said Kendall Almerico, founder of the group Crowd It Forward. “In Chris‘ case we thought it would be really cool to get him a riding lawn mower. We got in touch with Chris and he said, ‘Yeah, that’s great.’ But he’s a woodcutter by profession and what he really needs is a new chain saw.”
Mr. Cox was first spotted at the memorial in early October pushing his mower, with a blue and white South Carolina flag billowing behind him. The chain saw artist told reporters he had hoped to inspire others to help clean the landscape around national monuments and memorials, which had been left unattended after the federal government shutdown closed parks and prevented grounds crews from doing their work.
“The ‘lawnmower man’ put smiles on faces, but once the government came back together I thought it was important to kind of just slide into the shadows,” Mr. Cox said Monday.
Mr. Cox said for the past several weeks he’s been renting a space in Lorton and working on a steady stream of commissioned woodworking projects, including a custom Washington Redskins display case for a friend.
Though he said he did not know too much about what Wednesday’s small event might entail, he said he was pleased his actions inspired so many others to pitch in while the government was shuttered.
“I had volunteers show up. Lots of volunteers helped me clean up,” Mr. Cox said. “It was quite an interesting experience, and I met a lot of really neat people. I still have several thousand emails, and I’m trying to respond to everybody.”
Mr. Almerico said the online fundraiser had collected roughly $1,800 to pay for the chain saw, but when the Stihl company, a Virginia Beach chain saw manufacturer, offered to donate one, Mr. Almerico’s group decided to give Mr. Cox the money to help pay off any bills or outstanding parking tickets he received while mowing.
“When I was working 10 or 12 hours a day, it wasn’t hard to let the meter creep up,” Mr. Cox said. “I finally figured out where to park, but a lot of those meters, you put in 25 cents and get eight minutes!”
Mr. Cox is scheduled to receive his thank-you gifts Wednesday during a small ceremony at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial steps. He said he planned to head back to South Carolina sometime this weekend but hoped that his time in the spotlight was not in vain.
“I can bring the lawnmower man back up if needed, but anybody can be a lawnmower man,” he said. “I wanted everybody to be able to step up and just make it happen.”