This year, 2009, is the 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since January, there have been several special ceremonies and occasions… culminating in a big event this past Wednesday, September 2, at Newfound Gap.
The road over the mountain to Cherokee was closed to traffic, and all attendees were shuttled up on motorcoaches. My DH was the director of Friends of the Smokies from 1994 until 2002, so we were lucky enough to receive an invitation.
There were men there who worked in the CCC, people who were born in the park, and people who actually attended the FDR event! One man born in the park is 100 years old…
That’s me with DH, of course, and me with Phil Bredesen, the governor of TN. You can see Dolly in two of the shots.
Although the park was signed into existence in 1934, it was not officially dedicated until 1940… on September 2! So park officials decided that as the culminating 75th anniversary event, they would recreate the FDR dedication at the exact same location. FDR also happens to be the only sitting president ever to visit the park.
Even though Great Smoky Montains is the most visited park in the nation, the western parks tend to be perceived as more glamorous and thus get more attention and press. But I digress…
Dolly Parton has served all year as the official ambassador of the 75th anniversary. The ceremony was really wonderful. There were the four senators – 2 from Tennessee and 2 from NC, most of the congressmen and women. Two governors, the Secretary of the Interior, the director of the National Park Service, and many others.
A Cherokee tribal elder blessed the occasion by wafting a smoking ember in 7 directions, the politicians spoke, and Dolly sang two songs. Two high school bands, one from TN and one from NC, played. The weather cooperated, and it was a great day.
One common theme was how lucky we are in this nation to have the “great outdoors”, and also that the national parks belong to all of us – the people of the U.S.
It was a day to be proud and grateful!
(I promised a book giveaway… my agent sent me some extra copies of books, so I will give one lucky poster a copy of By Appointment Only and Mating Game… I’ll choose a winner Wednesday evening and will post the name as time permits…)