Parades, speechifying, and picnics will fill this weekend as Americans kick off the summer season. Memorial Day, though, is somber holiday, a time to remember the sacrifice of the 1.1 million men and women who gave their last full measure in wars defending our freedoms.
Freedom is an intensely personal ideal, with as many different meanings as there are people in our country. Nothing, in our opinion, defines our uniquely American freedoms as do our public lands. You own 640 million acres of land: national parks, forests, monuments, wildlife refuges, historic sites, battlefields, and cemeteries. The importance of this inheritance which we steward today, and pass on to future generations is best described by Ronald Reagan:
“The preservation of parks, wilderness, and wildlife has also aided liberty by keeping alive the 19th century sense of adventure and awe with which our forefathers greeted the American West. Many laws protecting environmental quality have promoted liberty by securing property against the destructive trespass of pollution. In our own time, the nearly universal appreciation of these preserved landscapes, restored waters, and cleaner air through outdoor recreation is a modern expression of our freedom and leisure to enjoy the wonderful life that generations past have built for us.” October 3, 1988
“Generations hence, parents will take their children to these woods to show them how the land must have looked to the first Pilgrims and pioneers. And as Americans wander through these forests, climb these mountains, they will sense the love and majesty of the Creator of all of that.” June 19, 1984
“You are worried about what man has done and is doing to this magical planet that God gave us. And I share your concern. What is a conservative after all but one who conserves, one who is committed to protecting and holding close the things by which we live…And we want to protect and conserve the land on which we live — our countryside, our rivers and mountains, our plains and meadows and forests. This is our patrimony. This is what we leave to our children. And our great moral responsibility is to leave it to them either as we found it or better than we found it.” June 19, 1984
We leave you with our acclaimed short video, “Common Ground” featuring Deputy OMB Director for Environment (Bush 41) Bob Grady, Chief, US Fish and Wildlife (Bush 41) and Assistant Secretary of State (Bush 43) John Turner, and Teton County, WY Commissioner Paul Vogelheim.
Have a great Memorial Weekend–please get out and enjoy OUR public lands!