With memories of his family's recent visit to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park still fresh in his mind, President Barack Obama watched a special preview of The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, a new documentary by Ken Burns that will premiere on PBS September 27.
While our nation boasts many great ideas, writer and historian Wallace Stegner calls our national parks "the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst." In 1872, Yellowstone National Park became the first national park in the world, its creation spawning a worldwide national parks movement.
The National Park Service, on behalf of all Americans, cares for our country’s most treasured places – ones of seemingly impossible natural beauty and those that move us to remember our heroes and battles for freedom, preserve the icons of our shared heritage, honor our nation’s diverse cultures, and celebrate the triumphs of individual spirit over adversity. In addition to caring for nearly 400 national parks, the National Park Service works in communities, by providing grants and expertise, to help neighbors preserve local history and create green spaces for healthy, outdoor family fun.
The best thing about national parks is that they belong to each one of us – to visit and enjoy; to care for and preserve for our children and grandchildren. To celebrate this wonderful inheritance, we are working together to make America’s Best Idea even better! On September 26, please join the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation
in national parks across the country for a National Day of Service and Celebration
– there will be no entrance fees, and you can volunteer and celebrate by seeing the same special preview the President saw today.
You can also join the conversation on Facebook. Tell us your ideas for making our National Parks even better on the National Park Service Facebook page
, or check out the National Park Service Facebook app
and send a postcard from your favorite park to your friends. And, of course, you can always follow the NPS Twitter feed
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Dan Wenk is Acting Director of the National Park Service