Instead of Demonizing the National Park Service

National Park ServiceHere’s the thing. When the federal shutdown is over National Park Service employees will greet the large number of Americans who return to their sites regardless of whether their visitors blamed them for the closings or called for people to violate the barricades. All will get the same friendly welcome and will be able to take advantage of the NPS’s deep pool of talent and commitment to protecting our nation’s most important landscapes and material items. In the end, my friends in the National Park Service want nothing more than to return to the work they love.

Instead of following Republican Congressmen, who have chosen to grandstand in the hopes of deflecting our collective frustration onto an agency that is simply trying to do their jobs under very difficult conditions, I have a suggestion that has the possibility of making a small, but positive difference.

Write a letter to the National Park Service thanking them for their service. Need some help framing your letter?

Today you are not at work, and I am sorry for that.  I wish I could do something to help you, but unfortunately the only thing I can do is hope that the government shutdown will be short lived, that the parks will re-open quickly, and that you will be back on payroll soon.   In the meantime, I would like to share a note of thanks.   I’m ashamed to say that I’ve not thanked you before.  For the past five years you have helped us, inspired us, protected us, guided us, taught us, made us laugh, and become a part of our own unique family memories at America’s parks. [Read More]

32 comments… add one
  • Al J Oct 11, 2013 @ 16:24

    I hope it’s not.

  • Al J Oct 11, 2013 @ 16:01


    The House is trying to get the Senate and the President to understand the seriousness of the 17Trillion in debt which is why they funded everything except ObamaCare a highly unpopular program as well as a computer fiasco which is NOT doing what was promised.

    The House sees it as a problem and the Public does, though the indiviual solutions have less popularity. The House believes it must be faced, the Senate less so and the President less than the Senate. It seems that most posters here see no problem, which makes me question their grasp of reality. Kevin I assume you believe in the seriousness of the debt problem, as your resume and experience show that you are not an uneducated man.

    What solution do you and the posters see to our deficit problem?

    In my eyes a control of spending and broad based taxation (where all parties pay a semblamce of a fair tax – as our Presient says – “We should all have skin in the game.”.

    It should be noted that all 3 voting branches of gov’t believe in NPS funding, so the logical conclusion is pass what everyone agrees to. Unfortunately politics enters into it and the Service is being used ass a pawn by both sides.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 11, 2013 @ 16:04

      The House is trying to get the Senate and the President to understand the seriousness of the 17Trillion in debt…

      Now that is pretty funny. 🙂

      • Jimmy Dick Oct 11, 2013 @ 16:39

        It’s real hilarious since the Republican Party is directly responsible for most of that debt. That is a fact conveniently forgotten while they whine about something that is a red herring. The hypocrisy of the GOP is incredible. You would think by the extremely low poll numbers they would get the point, but they don’t. Living in an echo chamber is not a way to govern any country. If they need help understanding that they can go ask a few dictators who lived in one right up until they were deposed.

        • Al J Oct 11, 2013 @ 17:21


          This thread has run its course. It’s time to move on. Thanks for your understanding.


  • Christopher Coleman Oct 11, 2013 @ 12:54

    Let me offer a contrarian view of the NPS shutdown: they haven’t shut down the parks enough! Let me explain: while tourists by the tens of thousands are inconvenienced and hundreds if not thousands of businesses dependent on them severely hurt by the Congressional hissyfit, meanwhile oil drillers and logging companies and other big businesses that profit off of public lands are still on park land happily drilling away! Give till it hurts I say: if the fat cats start moaning to the House of Representatives of Big Business, then this nonsense will come to a quick conclusion!

    • Al J Oct 11, 2013 @ 15:20

      Chris I suggest you direct your thoughts to Harry Reid and the Senate. The House has voted to fully fund the NPS. To date the Senate has not acted, repeat not acted.

      Once the Senate and the President sign the BILL we can open the park and get back to Civil War Talk and away from Poliical Talk which is upsetting to all.

      • Kevin Levin Oct 11, 2013 @ 15:23

        Sure, but a House vote on a clean C.R. would also reopen the federal government and our National Parks. From all reports that could have happened days ago.

  • Yulanda Burgess Oct 11, 2013 @ 5:29

    Yes. Thank them now and every time you visit a National Park. Sending a little Thank You note is only a small token of appreciation you can express. After you conclude your “walks through,” make sure you stop by the information desk and verbally express your thanks. I had the extreme pleasure of giving presentations at Vicksburg NPS this spring and had a behind the scenes intake at what these men and women do. Absolutely amazing! As a presenter, I was treated more than a paid contractor. I felt like a welcomed guest into their home.

    Peace and Joy and Well Wishes to All those who work for the NPS!

    -Yulanda Burgess

  • Linda W. Oct 10, 2013 @ 20:07

    I live near a national forest and only a short distance from Shenandoah National Park. In the other direction it’s a short drive to Cedar Creek National Historical Park. I must say all the park service people I’ve met have been friendly people who enjoy serving the public. Thanks for speaking up for them.

    • Al J Oct 11, 2013 @ 4:28

      Generally a good post, but ALL is hard to believe. Perhaps you meant most?

      I’ve traveled and work with people in over 50 NPs. The majority are helpful (many go above and beyond the call) but there are bad apples out there as evidenced by the Yellowstone and WW 2 Memorial incidents which have hurt the Park’s “Good Guy” image.

      The NPS has there share of people, like all governmental agencies, that act as Civil LORDs, not Civil SERVANTS.

      As a retired 30 year Civil Servant I saw countless examples of this Lordship that oversadowed the positive efforts of most. Lois Lerner, an employee of the agency I know best, is the Poster Girl for everything that’s wrong with the Federal Government.

      It sounds like Cedar Park and Shennandoah Park, has less of there share of these negative types.

  • Lyle Smith Oct 10, 2013 @ 19:13

    Clearly, I don’t agree with some of positions the NPS has taken during the shutdown, but I don’t think they should be demonized. If people disagree with them, disagree with them and leave it at that. I don’t blame the vast majority of NPS Rangers for any of this stuff.

  • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 16:30

    My apologies, I thought you were referring to the whole shutdown issue.

    Like most here I believe that the NPS is an essential program deserving of government funding. Obviously defense, security and financial regulation are more important, as is the NIH. There are probably otheres that fit into the essential categories.

    Regarding the NPS harassment of the Public has occured but probably not to the extent as reported. Unfortunately the action of a few bad apples will hurt the Park Service, It will take time to heal these “wounds”. The best that can be hoped for is a reasonabl dialogue between the Prk Serice and the Public, agknowledge any errors and move on. One of the great things about Americans is that when one agknowedges error it softens hard feelings.

    Consensus on Ledlie is he was incompetent. Curious if he had any redeeming value?

    I’ve always wondered where the Billy Mahone of the Crater was on day 2 of Gettysburg. As Ed Bearrs refers to wanting to talk to spiritualists, I would love to know what happened to Mahone in Longstreet’s great echelon attack.

  • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 16:02


    I hear your passion and understand that your tired of this. I am too as I have 2 Gettysburg tours that are in danger of no being conducted.

    Seriously, Kev, are you only saying one side is guilty of demonizing? Just five minutes ago CNN posted a montasge of the President calling his opponents Hostage Takers and Terrorists, while his opponents are using the term dictator in referring to the President. I’ll post the You Tubes if you want. We can also see video of vets, seniors and business owners telling how they were harrased by NPS employees.

    Negotiation requires each side to respectively treat each other. It’s like your students at Gann. No matter how idiotic their comments are they must be treated respectfully as much as you wouldn’t mind seeing them roughed up as was noted earlier with Congressman Neu(What’s his name?)

    Interested on your thought on General Ledlie at the Crater fiasco. Was he relly that incompetent?

    • Kevin Levin Oct 10, 2013 @ 16:08

      Seriously, Kev, are you only saying one side is guilty of demonizing?

      Yes, I am saying that from what I’ve read of only Republican politicians who have been critical of the NPS for trying to make the best of a very difficult situation.

      I’ve seen the videos of people who claim to have been harassed by NPS employees for doing their jobs. Who cares.

      Yes, Ledlie was that incompetent.

  • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 15:16


    Sounds like progress is being nade, The President is allowing states to fund some parks to reopen. Hopeful the dam will break,

    The 6 week cooling off period is a good sign.

    Let’s hope in six weeks a “grand bargain” can be made with the House getting Spending Cuts, but not as much as they want, and the Senate and the President making a serious effort to definitively cut spending.

    The one thing positive to come out of this will be a discussion of the nastion’s debt problem.

    Boths sides should cool down the rhetoric eliminating words like terrorist, dicator, estortiobist, hostage taker, etc… If each side can respect the validity of each sides position and compromise accolrdingly we would be so much better off.

    From years of working for an unpopular gvovernmental taxing authority where I had to negotiate millions of dollars in assessments, the best outcome may be that neither side totally wins or loses.

    Can we start on this sight to cool down the rhetoric and respect the points of each side.

    As the late Rodney King said, can’t we all just get along!!

    Finally can we get back to the Civil War of the 1860’s not the 2000’s and 2010’s.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 10, 2013 @ 15:19

      We are not going down this road again on this particular post. Thanks for your understanding.

      • Al J. Oct 10, 2013 @ 15:28

        OK Kev, I get your point, but is it necessary to demonize one side in your post and not agknowledge that their theoretical positions have some degree of validity?

        I believe that because of the actions of some bad apples in the Park Service that much of the Public will be turned off, and tenseness and ease between the Servce and the Public will take time to heal. The Serices good guy image has been somewhat damaged.

        • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 15:30

          Kev could you initiate a Post in some ACW topic?

          • Kevin Levin Oct 10, 2013 @ 15:33

            I blog about what is on my mind. And right now this is what is on my mind. Take it or leave it.

        • Kevin Levin Oct 10, 2013 @ 15:32

          I didn’t demonize anyone. Unless you can point to one Democrat who has engaged in the same behavior I stand by my statement. Of course, I am quite open to be proven wrong.

          If the actions of a few “bad apples” in the park service will turn off the American public it’s because public officials are exploiting it. That said, I have seen no clear evidence of wrongdoing in the NPS. In fact, I suspect that the NPS personnel are doing what they can to make the best of a horrible situation. I am sick of this.

          • Al J Oct 11, 2013 @ 4:43

            I thought of your post and can’t come up with any such posts. I think it may have to do with the public philosopy of each party – one the party of more government while the other is the party of less. I’m sure the Democrats see the same amount of stupidity conducted throughout the government that the Republicans do. They just keep more quiet about it as it’s in their political interest to do so. Conversely the Republicans promote these bone headed incidents.

            Regardless of all the politics the Historical Record shows that the House (Republican controlled) has passed a bill that fully funds the NPS but the Senate (Democrat controlled) will not allow a vote on this “clean” bill. Without knowing all the politics involved a neutral observer could only conclude that the GOP wants to re-open the NPs and the Democrats don’t! Now that’s something!!

            • Kevin Levin Oct 11, 2013 @ 6:14

              We can go around and around on the politics of all this, which I am not really prepared to do.

              I think it may have to do with the public philosopy of each party – one the party of more government while the other is the party of less. I’m sure the Democrats see the same amount of stupidity conducted throughout the government that the Republicans do.

              I don’t see what differences in political philosophy necessarily have to do with choosing to scapegoat and demonize federal workers that are doing their best under difficult conditions.

              • Al J Oct 11, 2013 @ 6:27

                Agreed! Most employess are doing their best in a difficult situation where it is next to impossible for them to shine. Being told your non-Essential can’t be fun. There has to be a better term!

                Now can we get back to CW Posts?

                I have always found the Battle of the Crater to be fascinating. In your opinionion do you think it ever coulde have suceeded? I was just with Dick Summers and he thought it might have worked. The Jeruselem Plank Road seemed awful close standing on the edge and could have broke the Confederate Lines. Your thoughts?

                • Kevin Levin Oct 11, 2013 @ 6:29

                  In your opinionion do you think it ever coulde have suceeded?


                  • Al J Oct 11, 2013 @ 12:21

                    I have read in several sources that ther ws nominal reaction for some 15 minutes after the blast which allowed the Confederates to react in enough time though the event was in doubt. Perhaps if the troops immediately moved to the sides thay would have had a Yankee breakthrough.

                    What are your thoughts

                    • Kevin Levin Oct 11, 2013 @ 12:23


                      Give it a rest. This post is not about the Crater. Right now I am not concerned about the Crater. I suggest you read my book or Earl Hess’s for a detailed overview of the battle. This is beginning to get annoying.

          • Al J Oct 11, 2013 @ 5:03

            Regarding the “clear evidence” most of that is first hand accounts or statements from primary souces, such as sodier statements that are cited by soldiers and others on the scene in your “Crater” book.

            I suspect that we will see several videos and/or from the Yellowstone fiasco and the NPS won’t look good. The Vallincourt video is believable, perhaps in some part that many people believe that the government hassles people needlessly. Fair or not perception becomes reality.

            • Kevin Levin Oct 11, 2013 @ 6:15

              Vallincourt provided not one shred of evidence for his claims. Just another example of Republican grandstanding and scapegoating.

  • mannie gentile Oct 10, 2013 @ 15:00

    Kevin, You’re one of the good guys.


    • Kevin Levin Oct 10, 2013 @ 15:23

      Thanks, Mannie. I have nothing but the utmost respect and appreciation for all you guys do for this country.

    • Patrick Young Oct 10, 2013 @ 16:13

      It occurs to me that nearly all of my encounters with NPS staff have been extremely good. They helped get me interested in history as an eleven year old boy at Gettysburg, they guided my autistic son through junior ranger programs at the Grand Canyon and other sites, and they helped make my last vacation with my late wife memorable at Lookout Mountain. My most recent experience was at the World War II Memorial in August where a ranger let my sister and I share memories of our dad who was severely wounded in the Pacific.

      After the tour, our ranger told us how she had earned her hat through years of seasonal work, study, and training.

      These men and women are a precious resource for all of us.

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