August 25, 2016.
I’ve been waiting for years for this day. Though the National Park Service has been celebrating since June of last year, this past Thursday was the actual day – one hundred years ago – that President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the National Park Service. It’s referred to as Founder’s Day.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park celebrated by inviting all its employees, volunteers and park partners to a picnic in front of the park headquarters.
Deputy Superintendent Clay Jordan was the Masters of Ceremony. Both he and Superintendent Cassius Cash were in their hot, wool uniforms with their button-down jackets but they looked good.
“Over 312 million people visited our national park units,” Superintendent Cash said, “which is more than the number who watch the NBA, NFL, the NHL….” and other sports leagues I haven’t heard about.
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee was there. He had done a little walk with Cash and some children, adding to Cash’s total Smokies mileage. He’s working to get 100 miles. Before Alexander was a senator, he was governor of Tennessee.
I had heard of Alexander, way before I moved to Western North Carolina because he attracted national attention on two counts. He became governor, following a very corrupt governor, so corrupt that there was a movie made of his antics, Marie.
Secondly, after Alexander left the governor’s office, he took his family to Australia for six months. He wasn’t afraid that the political world would forget him.
Congressman Phil Roe of Tennessee also spoke, as did Donald Norcross of New Jersey. New Jersey?? You may say. Well, the Smokies is a National Park which transcends Tennessee and North Carolina. Besides, it turns out that Norcross’s family has roots in Appalachia.
Which makes me wonder… Where were the North Carolina senators and representatives on Founders Day? Were they in a national park unit? With eight national park unit spread across the state, they had plenty of opportunity to Find their Park.
Time for me to find out.