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Charles F. Sams III is the nominee to become Director of the National Park Service.

by Audrey Peterman

Today I’m praying for the people affected by Hurricane Ida, for those fleeing from fires in the west and those reeling from the earthquake in Haiti. I’m praying for those affected by war and disease and for the healing of our planet. For me, praying involves putting my energy and focus on the Oneness I encountered first in Acadia National Park, and asking for the Divine Will to be done. Simultaneously I strive to help with money and service in the physical world.

In the face of tragedy, I am still feeling as if I am in heaven while very much alive. The reason for my euphoria? Apple celebrates National Parks with Apple Maps guides, App Store curation, more

What a fantastic birthday present! I’m taking it personally since I celebrated my 70th birthday August 21 and Apple gave this fantastic present to the parks on their 105th anniversary, August 25. I’m elated that now our national parks can live up to their description as our “Crown Jewels:” “America’s Best Idea,” and “The Soul of America” as Apple makes everyone know about them!

At the same time park managers will be getting more money hire adequate staff and maintain necessary facilities. It is the job of the US Congress to provide sufficient funding for the parks, but they have been woefully under budget for many years. Apple could make millions more people aware of that and eager to support the parks by calling upon their Congressional representatives to do so.

I am overjoyed by the warmth of Apple’s CEO Tim Cook’s statement signaling that he has the same respect and appreciation for the national parks that we hold in our hearts:

“With every passing year, our national parks only become more precious . . . we’re honored to play a small role in helping even more people explore the parks, learn about their history, and renew their love and appreciation for the planet we share.”

Many of our friends and colleagues working for decade to publicize the stories of the national parks have succeeded in making a small dent, but imagine the millions that Apple can reach instantaneously on their worldwide platform.

Soon many more people will be able to find the happiness and contentment I feel from being in the National Park System and learning that I am part of a long continuum of people who’ve been on Earth, from the Anasazi Indians who were on this continent thousands of years ago, to unknown natives before them. I want them to experience the feelings of joy, of knowing that they belong to the Earth as much as it belongs to them.

I hope Apple will turn its attention to the stories of exploration and valor; of extermination and internment; of development and defense that we’ve experienced in the parks from Florida to Alaska.

What if we could open their eyes so they know that by telling our history from the national parks where it happened, they can dispel some of the dangerous myths and propaganda roiling our society?

I would like to take them to Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia including Constitution Hall where the Constitution was debated and signed. From the original artifacts you learn that the Founding Fathers REFUSED to enshrine a state religion in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights assures FREEDOM OF RELIGION as a Natural Right. So America is not a Christian country, contrary to common belief in some quarters.

I’d like to take them to The Benjamin Banneker Boundary Stones National Historical Landmark in Virginia which recognizes the Black American who was instrumental in helping layout the Capital City of Washington, D.C. Benjamin Banneker, the genius astronomer, farmer, clock maker and almanac publisher among many other disciplines recreated the plans from memory when the chief planner went off and took the plans with him. Why is a story such as this virtually unknown? By sharing this story, Apple could puncture the disrespectful notion that African Americans contributed little to American society.

Next I'd take them to Appomattox Court House National Historical Park in Virginia, where

the renegade Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant. Lee refused his advisor’s counsel to continue a guerilla war, and told his followers to go home and resume their lives in American society. His starving men were saved by 25,000 rations donated to them by General Grant. “Confederate President” Jefferson Davis was reputedly caught fleeing in a woman’s dress. This visit would show that the confederacy was in every way ignoble, unlike how today’s would-be secessionists try to portray it.

I want to refer Mr. Cook and his team to the enormous amount of scholarship and planning for national parks of the 21st Century that is ready to be implemented including the Second Century Commission Report and the Presidential Memorandum on Diversity in National Parks

With the nomination of an Indigenous American, Charles F. Sams III, to the position of Director of the National Park Service for the first time in history, AND the emergence of Apple in the national parks space, “mi glad bag buss,” as we say in Jamaica, meaning I am overflowing with joy. Incontrovertibly, we are at a major turning point in our relationship with our treasured national parks.

Plus, today I received an image of the bench on the Anhinga Trail in Everglades National park bearing Frank's and my name, a $2500 gift from friends honoring my mother, Avenel Golding who passed away in 2017. Anyone who donates can have the same privilege.

I think I'll remain in heaven. Here's to US!

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