“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
That is a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, the great American president who gave us what some consider to be “America’s Best Idea” — the National Park System.
One can only imagine what Roosevelt, a famously no-nonsense political leader, would think of today’s government shutdown and the travesty it has created for our national parks and wildlife areas. We have reached a very sad state of affairs, indeed, in our country when public servants are tossing citizens off our nation’s public lands — land that was meant to be enjoyed by all.
Our national park system is one of our proudest and noblest endeavors. For over 100 years it has preserved and safeguarded our most beautiful landscapes and most treasured historic sites, with the single intent of sharing them with the people of our nation and the world. Millions of people have received excellent and friendly service from park personnel, and have come away with wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.
The National Park Service’s mission has been destroyed and its reputation demonized by the callous politics of the shutdown of the federal government. What an evil thing it is, to do so much damage to an institution that is cherished by people worldwide.
It is a measure of the contempt in which political leaders hold the public, an attitude that turns the concept of “public service” on its ear. Those who would behave in such a manner do not see themselves as public servants at all but rather as overlords of a land they do not own.