On Friday April 24, I attended the 75th Anniversary Governors’ Proclamation Ceremony on Clingmans Dome, as a representative of the Carolina Mountain Club. It was an invitation only affair and CMC was invited to present a proclamation honoring the park for its 75th anniversary. The rangers were in their dress uniforms – now I know what they mean by the top brass.
Speech after speech recounted the history of the Smokies and the sacrifice that were made by those who had to leave their homes to make way for the park.
Yet, Principal Chief Michell Hicks of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians pointed out that the park provides protection for the Cherokee lands from development. Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee said it is more difficult now to preserve land now than 75 years ago. Superintendent Dale Ditmanson, pictured above with CMC members, mused that in 200 years, he would like to see healthy hemlocks healthy, restored spruce and fir trees and the return of the American chestnuts.
North Carolina Gov. Bev. Perdue did not attend which caused great dismay among North Carolina residents. She was quoted as saying that “it was too far”. Needless to say, Western North Carolina newspapers and blogs were very upset, including me.
But the Governor’s absence did not take away from the momentous occasion. The CMC’s proclamation recounted our early members, Chase Ambler, Horace Kephart and George Masa who advocated for the park. See the proclamation.