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Why history’s important – some thoughts from the National Parks

September 28, 2009

As any fellow History major might attest, we are pretty familiar with Ken Burns films. In reality, this is where a lot of Americans get their average dose of history and personally, I’m ok with that. What has caused me to write about Ken Burns’ films on this intern blog however, has to do with the airing last night of the first installment of his new series, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.

Having traveled this summer to more than seven of the National Parks I feel an even stronger connection to these places of wide open space and natural beauty.

While there are certainly many wounds associated with these parks that are often left out of the history books, I must say that I’m glad to live in a country that, while the idea may not have been popular in the 1800s, has now preserved huge areas of this country. I’m also glad that this film includes the voices of those often left out of the picture of American life.

I hope you get the chance to check out some or all of the films in this series, and I urge everyone, history major or not, to consider how these decisions were made, the people who made them, and the people who were affected both positively and negatively by the creation of these parks. What we do now does live on and it’s important to take a moment and consider how we got where we are today.

In Peace,


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