Just wanted to take a second to thank all of you who shared yesterday’s post through social media, specifically on your Facebook pages. My decision to share an anonymous NPS employee’s response to some of the most irresponsible accusations re: park closings clearly resonated with many people. I can state unequivocally that yesterday’s post is now the most popular entry ever posted on this blog, which has been running for close to eight years.
Popularity can be measured in any number of ways. Some look for comments, which I think is a big mistake. Yes, it looks good to new readers to know that others are taking an interest, but most comments are written by the same small group of people. If it’s a controversial post than those threads tend to go on for a bit longer, but they still revolve around the same core group. Continue reading
I have a number of friends who work for the National Park Service. They protect this nation’s most important cultural, environmental, and historical treasures. As a group they are some of the most passionate and knowledgeable public servants that you will find and they are worth every cent of our tax dollars. I am absolutely disgusted at the unwarranted accusations being hurled in their direction during this federal shutdown. Here is one lone voice in response to some of the nonsense that is being spread about the closure of NPS sites across the country.
No one misses the parks more than those who work in them, Kevin. When we were furloughed, a part of the shutdown included closure of park buildings, parks roads and avenues, and memorials for security reasons for protection of the resource itself and visitors. I’ve seen posts and caught some of the “the parks are owned by the American public and we’re taking them back” crowd but as yet have not seen a line of these same persons volunteering to clean the toilets, patrol the roads, provide assistance at information stations or in back country park areas, or sweep the floors after a thousand or more visitors have tramped through leaving behind candy wrappers, et al. FOX news reported that NPS rangers were told to make the closure “as painful as possible”, which is total nonsense. Tea Party reps like Michele Bachman and Randy Neugebauer have used the closure of the WW2 Memorial to grandstand for themselves and gone as far as to dress down an NPS employee simply doing her job – unpaid at the moment- by controlling access to a closed site. Rand Paul has referred to Park Police as “goons” sent to close the memorials from the American public. Continue reading
Update: There are a number of reports that the Obama administration is playing politics with the NPS closures by pushing administrators to make it as difficult as possible for the general public to access certain sites. This piece by The Washington Times is typical. One unknown source is cited, but that’s about it. This interview with Jon Jarvis, director of the NPS is very clear about why these drastic steps are necessary.
There are employees that pick up the trash. There are employees that clean the restrooms. There’s employees that provide protection against vandalism. Some of these sites are potential targets for vandalism or terrorism. And so, I’ve had to furlough most of those employees. I furloughed, as a result of no appropriation, 21,000 employees of the National Park Service. And so we are down to just a – essentially a skeleton crew of enforcement officers that provide just the very basics of security. I can’t leave them open and accept that kind of impact. That’s – that violates my responsibilities to the American people as the steward of these places.
Like many of you, my blood pressure went through the roof after watching this video. At first I was convinced that it was a piece from The Onion. I viewed it twice all the while trying to comprehend how Texas Republican Congressman, Randy Neugebauer, could justify berating a National Park Service employee for having to manage a very difficult situation that his own party created. Is it possible that this jackass didn’t understand that the shutdown of the federal government includes the NPS?
I have nothing but the utmost respect for the work that the National Park Service does across this country and it breaks my heart that they (along with many others) have to suffer for absolutely no reason. Thanks to this dedicated NPS employee for standing her ground in the face of this silly man.
This past week I was reminded of just how upsetting it can be for African American to have to confront the Confederate flag when visiting a Civil War site. I don’t care how many H.K. Edgertons and Karen Coopers you embrace, in the end, many blacks feel alienated and/or unwelcome when visiting these sites. There should be no doubt about why this is the case given the history of the Confederate flag. Continue reading
This Thursday marks the 150th anniversary of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry’s unsuccessful assault at Battery Wagner outside of Charleston. Though the amount of attention focused on this event pales in comparison with the recent commemoration of the battle of Gettysburg, the event constitutes the “high water-mark” of the black soldier experience in the Civil War and in our popular memory. This is due in large part to the success and continued popularity of the movie, “Glory”. On the one hand, the movie obscures the rich history of those black men who fought for the United States during the war beyond the 54th, but it also opens a door that will hopefully be exploited by those involved in this commemoration over the course of the week. Continue reading