As outdoorsmen, hunters, anglers, and yes, even Americans, we owe a lot to Theodore Roosevelt. From the stuffed bear that takes his name and keeps our children feeling safe and secure at night to the founding of the National Parks Service, he may have had the most impact as a President in a non-war situation.
The National Parks Service was established 100 years ago, of which Teddy Roosevelt was one of the founders. The NPS is responsible for a small portion of our lands to remain pristine and as they were well before the development of our more evolved civilization here in the United States.
The Grand Canyon was incorporated as the 15th named National Park in 1919. Teddy Roosevelt once said of one of the seven wonders of the world, “The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled through-out the wide world... Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”
My sentiments exactly.
I overheard one person mention during my recent visit there, “I can’t believe they do not have guard rails up to prevent people from falling in.”
That is the key about the canyon. The officials do the best they can to keep from detracting from the beauty there by not doing things such as adding a fence for protection. The goal is to keep it as natural as possible while still allowing humans to visit and appreciate what is there.
Paul Bogard mentions in his book ‘The End of Night’ about the difficulties in searching for natural darkness in the age of artificial light. Details such as this are even incorporated into the layout and maintenance of the canyon.
Things such as the design of the lighting, which incorporates shields above down facing lights to prevent light from glowing along the surface, were established so even the sky remains as natural as possible.
We have lost our sense of what this world offers us in many cases. We do not understand and appreciate what we have right here. A Family Feud episode from a while back asked a question along the lines of “what country is considered the most beautiful?” Both families missed the number one answer. The answer was the United States.
Without maintaining that appreciation, it does not take long for it to be lost. It being the land, the water, the forest, the desert, the mountains. It being the awe, the reverence, even the necessity.
The advents of the computer and the television were marvelous things that allowed us to see and experience places and events that we never would have been able to otherwise. They have also turned us into a population that desires to remain stationary and unmotivated to do things more than pressing a button.
As generations pass, without that healthy passion to be outdoors, to hunt, to fish, to hike, to camp, these treasures God has laid before us will become little more than images and words. And while I sit here, typing on a computer with a television on in the background in order to share words and an image, they are nothing compared to the real thing.
Perhaps I should type it differently. They are NOTHING compared to the real thing. Sometimes that experience is all it takes for us to desire more.
Teddy Roosevelt’s adventures throughout the world and then visiting what America had to offer were enough for him to desire a protection for such beautiful and ancient creations.
Perhaps I shall visit and hike the Linville Gorge, our eastern Grand Canyon, a little sooner than later.