Monday, May 16, 2011

Service as Patriotism

I've taken an unexpected detour from my plan to join Pete on trail. His need to make time has been a part of my decision, but more important to my decision is a long held dream of mine. Since I was little, I've wanted to visit all our countries' National Parks. This part of the country is so ripe with parks and monuments that I can't help but choose to road trip to as many as I can.

Since starting I've visited Harpers Ferry, the Gettysburg war monument, Fort McHenry, the Hampton House, The Catoctin Mountain Park, and the Eisenhower Retirement Farm.

One of the things I am struck by, while walking the homes and trails is the relationship our sense of Patriotism has with service. At Gettysburg we honor those who died in service during the Civil War. The Eisenhower site documents the years of service he gave as a soldier and a president. Even the Catoctin Mountain Park recognizes the service of the men in the CCC and WPA during the depression in creating many of the roads, trails, and shelters still in use today in the National Parks System.

However, it isn't just the people and places that these parks memorialize that epitomize this dedication to service. It's the men and women serving as park rangers, tour guides, bus drivers, and even school chaperones who represent much of what it means today to serve their country. They work to keep history available to us and to make it come alive for us.

As Americans, we are raised with the idea ingrained in us that it is our duty to find a way to serve.

How do you choose to serve? What can we as a people do to continue to recognize our history, both good and bad?

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