Speech by President Teddy Roosevelt made at the Grand Canyon, Arizona, on May 6, 1903:
“In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it in your own interest and in the interest of the country – to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is.
I was delighted to learn of the wisdom of the Santa Fe railroad people in deciding not to build their hotel on the brink of the canyon. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel, or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon.
Leave it as it is. You can not improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American if he can travel at all should see.
We have gotten past the stage, my fellow-citizens, when we are to be pardoned if we treat any part of our country as something to be skinned for two or three years for the use of the present generation, whether it is the forest, the water, the scenery. Whatever it is, handle it so that your children’s children will get the benefit of it.”
Lot’s of things which have been annoying me lately, but I’m not gonna dwell on it. So I’ll talk about something I like instead today. Thanks to the technology we have today, i.e., Apple iPhones, I’ve downloaded the entire Ken Burns National Park Documentary to my phone so I can watch it from my daily trek on the treadmill. Someone here the other day had lumped TR with some of the worst Presidents we’ve had. I’m certain that person was confused with TR’s nephew and/or was grossly misinformed about what a great President TR was. Among his greatest achievements was his support of the Antiquities Act whereby Congress gave the President the Power to create National Monuments and also his support for the National Park. He loved to hunt and fish and hike in the American Wilderness. His steadfast to the money changers of the day made it possible that generations after him and after me will be able to enjoy the view in the photograph I posted above. These national parks belong to us and the nation. They are a place we can get away from the mundane views and simply suck it in. Photos do not do these places justice.
I saw the Grand Canyon for my first time this year in my 40’s. I took my ten year old son to see it too. I’ll return no doubt and simply hope to see it in the same condition I saw it where the only changes would be made by God Himself. The vistas of the National Parks cannot be improved and we are fortunate that great men and women made it possible that we have these parks today; it truly is an American invention and one of the best ideas we as a nation could have come up with. A sign of true Democracy. These are places where the hand of man is minimal and at best unseen.
Since 2007, I made it a goal of mine to visit as many national parks as I can. Besides the Everglades which is in our backyard and is a place all of us in South Florida must visit and protect, I’ve been lucky to visit Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce, Arches, and Acadia National Parks. This weekend I’ll be headed to the pristine lands enjoyed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in what is now called Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. I’m talking my 5 and 10 year old as well. It will be the 4th National Park I will have visited in 2009. And my list is pretty large still. I have so many on my list that I have trips planned into 2011 and beyond.
So hopefully I’ll have some interesting images to convey to you upon my return next week from the Blue Ridge Mountains and hopefully I’ll have some autumn colors to give you. If you’re a videophile nut, get the National Park series on Blue Ray and see it. If you have kids, see it with them. Then make plans to take your kids to one or more of America’s National Parks. Everything you need is right here in the USA. And as you stand before these great vistas that we find in our National Parks, you can thank a lot of people, but you should give a special thanks to TR; who was a real man who enjoyed the outdoors, who hunted and fished, who hiked and rode horseback through the wilderness as compared to those who would rather spend their time playing golf and taking their Lexus SUV’s to the wine bar.