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The National Parks’ Centennial: A Tribute to the Visionaries

2016 ushers in many things, and the National Parks’ 100th anniversary is one we should not forget.

As John Muir, wilderness enthusiast and philosopher once said“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and places to pray, where nature may heal and give strength to the body and soul.”

The National Parks 100th anniversary is officially set for August 25, 2016, but the celebration should be much more grand than a one day festivity. Our National Parks are one of the greatest gifts we have inherited from preceding generations. When men and women set aside tracts of beautiful land in 1916, they did so more out of a duty toward us, the current generation, than they did for themselves. The idea places like Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Everglades should be open for all to enjoy is an idea uniquely American, and should be celebrated.

Lots of people in America are doing their best to recognize the accomplishments of those early leaders and the blessing they have bestowed upon us. Several documentaries have been made to emphasize the importance of the National Parks in America.

Check out a trailer for one of these documentaries.

If the trailer gets one thing wrong, it is the point these lands are with us for eternity. Nothing lasts forever, and our national parks and public lands are no exception. In fact factions of people in America and in Congress are not supporters of the US government holding land at all. Protecting public lands should be an easy thing to do, as they are enjoyed by people of all races, genders, backgrounds, and beliefs. They truly are the gem of the common man.

Our parks have been called the “crown jewels” of America, and it is easy to see why. In Europe, the land most Americans trace their ancestry to, all land had been privatized for generations. Common people literally couldn’t go out and experience the serenity and majesty of wild lands Europe had. The fact was they were stuck and had no way out of squalor they lived in. Around the world people were in much of the same boat.

America decided to be different, and leaders like Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, and Marjory Douglas worked tirelessly to ensure some lands would be protected for the use of all. The incredible thing is, they didn’t just work to protect some land for the common man, they worked to protect the most stunning land for the common man. Had it not been for folks like these there would be no National Parks’ 100th anniversary, and all of the places Americans flock to by the millions each year would be tucked away and inaccessible.

What is the best way to support our parks during and beyond the National Parks’ 100th anniversary? Get out and enjoy them. With so much natural diversity and beauty, it would be hard not to find a place everyone can enjoy. Plan a new adventure this year, and make it a point to explore some of the natural wonder surrounding us. You can use this list of national parks in America to find the nearest park to you. Take the advice of a wise man like John Muir and find a place to play, or to pray, this year.

The big question going into the National Parks’ 100th anniversary is where do we go from here? Will these magnificent lands be available in another 100 years? The answer is up to us.

NEXT: PUBLIC LANDS AND WHY THEY ARE WORTH PROTECTING

The National Parks’ Centennial: A Tribute to the Visionaries