The National Park Service, created by an Act signed by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916, is celebrating its 100th birthday this summer.
The National Parks is “America’s Best Idea”, according to film producer Ken Burns. Burns’ six-part film series is finishing a repeat airing on PBS this evening. The National Parks: America’s Best Idea is the story of “an idea as uniquely American as the Declaration of Independence and just as radical: that the most special places in the nation should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone.”
I first experienced the beauty and majesty of the National Parks during a four-week, cross-country road trip with my dad, mom, brothers and sister. The six of us pulled out of our driveway in Dearborn, Michigan in a 1970 Ford LTD, hauling a pop-up camper. Our first stop was the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. I’ll never forget that trip. Now I live in Washington, DC, with the National Mall and Memorial Parks in my own backyard.