Buy Unleashing Colter's Hell, Lost Cause, and Need To Know three of Amazon's top selling national park thrillers today!

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Presidency and National Parks: Two Great American Ideas

President Obama and family in  Acadia National Park.
White House Photo
February 15th is President's Day, the one day we honor all the people who served in America's highest office. At the time of the Constitution's ratification, a country's highest executive office serving as president was a unique and radical idea. Many founders, before adopting the idea of a president, flirted with a chief executive akin to a dictator or king. But having just fought a war to overthrow one king, the founding father's rightly rejected this idea.

A presidency is an idea that Americans have truly made their own. Another truly American idea is that of the national park. With President's Day fast approaching, here are my top five favorite presidential national parks.

5. Yellowstone: This park may surprise some for making this list.  However, given that it was the world's first national park, requiring congress and President U.S. Grant to set precedent makes a perfect candidate for a presidential national park.

4. Devils' Tower: Another park that wouldn't come to mind of most. Yet, Devil's Tower most definitely deserves to be on the list. In 1906, Teddy Roosevelt used presidential power to create the Devils' Tower national monument. This was the first time a precedent used executive power to expand federal protection to public lands.  Roosevelt went on to establish numerous monuments including the Grand Canyon national monuments. Many of these monuments later were elevated to national parks by Congress.

3. Mount Rushmore is the first obvious choice. This massive granite edifice would likely make everyone's list of presidential national parks. The park memorializes some of America's greatest commanders in chief. Many however don't realize why the president who are carved in South Dakota's Black Hills were chosen for this honor, in short its because each in their time in office set a precedent that still impacts us today.  Washington was chosen for his example of stepping down from office and peacefully transferring governmental power after two terms. This peaceful power transfer is an example of good government that Americans can be rightly proud.  Jefferson was chosen for his negotiations with France to purchase the Louisiana territory. This like Washington was an example of the federal government's policy of using negotiation and compensation to expand its domain. Lincoln was obviously selected for his saving of the Union. Lincoln knew with great clarity and conviction that if the south was allowed to leave the Union, the United States would not long survive this cleavage. Rather, the previous United States would likely be cast into a Balkanized state that could be easily picked off by larger powers. Lincoln always realized the injustice and threat slavery represented to our national soul and rightly worked to abolish it.  Finally, Teddy Roosevelt was carved onto Mount Rushmore because of his desire to leave not just political goods but natural resources for future generations. Roosevelt was among the first to see the limits of our public domain and the need to conserve some it for Americans yet unborn.

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C
National Archives
2. The Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, and Washington Monuments are the second obvious
choice. These Greek and Egyptian inspired monuments enshrine three of the presidents who help shape not only the nation but what it means to serve as president. Serving as the first Commander and Chief, everything George Washington did was precedent setting and is why he is rightly referred as the father of our country. Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence and set down for the entire world to see that America believes all are created equal.  Abraham Lincoln followed Jefferson's lead and committed America to the path that Jefferson's ideal extended to all Americans.  While are nation isn't perfect, no one can deny that progress has been made on nearly every front, and national parks such as the Lincoln Mermorial have been the setting for much of this progress.

White House and South Lawn
Daniel Schwen
1. The White House is my last choice as a presidential national park.  Unknown to many, the White House is part of the National Park System. The National Park Service is responsible for its upkeep and maintenance, as Barack Obama recently stated one of the perks of being president is getting to live in a national park. The White House serves not only as the focus of the federal government, but its fitting that the symbol of that power is part of the national park system which has a mission to preserve and protect America's most treasured ideas,hopes, and places for present and future generations.

Sean Smith is a former Yellowstone Ranger, and an award winning conservationist, TEDx speaker, and author. He writes national park thrillers from his home in the shadow of Mount Rainier National Park. To learn more about his thrillers click here or follow him on twitter: @parkthrillers

No comments:

Post a Comment