Sites of Healing and Civic Dialogue

Reading of Declaration of Independence at National Archives

Reading of the Declaration of Independence at National Archives for the 4th of July

I can’t believe it’s already July.  My how the time has flown by.  For the 4th of July I went to some events here in D.C.  As this is my first time in D.C., I thought I would make the most of my 4th of July weekend here in our nation’s capital.  In the morning I went to the live reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the National Archives by reenactors portraying John Adams, Abigail Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Ned Hector, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. I also went into the National Archives and saw the original Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights on display.  It’s pretty cool to see the original documents although you can’t really read them because the words are faded.  While I was at the Archives I also saw the Organic Act on display, which is the Act that President Woodrow Wilson signed on August 25, 1916 establishing the National Park Service.  This document is on display from June 30, 2016 through August 31, 2016.  Sadly, I did not get to enjoy the fireworks at the National Mall because it rained all day and I really didn’t want to sit outside in the rain waiting for the show at night. At the Centennial Office one of the current projects I’m working on is creating a list of all the Latino Conservation Week events that are taking place at national park sites in order to create a communications/social media plan.  I have also been inputting these events into the Find Your Parks/Encuentra Tu Parque website.  It’s been fun reading about all the interesting events that will be taking place across the nation.  LCW is a great opportunity to demonstrate that the Latino community cares about conservation and public lands. I’m also currently assisting on the planning of a panel discussion to take place at the National Archives on Founder’s Day, August 25.  The topic for the panel discussion will be how national parks serve as places of healing and civic dialogue. National park sites have served as places of discussion and healing during times of turmoil and I think it will be interesting to hear from different groups how they have each used parks for this purpose.  This is very relevant to what is going on today in our nation and parks serve as places of common ground to bring the community together.  I wonder if any of you have experienced this in your respective parks?  Whether it be with Native American or African American groups and having their stories be told in the interpretation of history or in the form of finding healing in parks, like with veterans with PTSD who have used parks as places of healing as well.  National parks serve a greater purpose than their initial intention.    

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