The Philadelphia Inquirer
Thursday, August 25, 2016
by Cynthia MacLeod, superintendent, Independence National Historical Park
Hip Hip Huzzah!
One hundred years ago, on Aug. 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the National Park Service “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations.”
For 100 years, the NPS has been entrusted with the care of our national parks. With support from volunteers and partners, the Park Service safeguards 412 special places and shares their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year.
Independence National Historical Park is one of these special places. In 2015, 4.3 million visited the park that includes the Liberty Bell, an international symbol of freedom, and Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated, adopted, and signed.
Several partners in Philadelphia have been helping this year. We work with Historic Philadelphia Inc. on story-telling benches and historian-actors throughout the park for visitors’ enjoyment. The Independence Visitor Center Corporation. works with us every day at our Independence Visitor Center to provide excellent services for people from around the world.
We added a Pollinator Garden with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and Fish and Wildlife Service help. In another NPS-SCA program, teens created historical medicinal and vegetable gardens, and learned about partnerships, teamwork, and other special places in nature. This program helped them to appreciate the historical aspects of Philadelphia while encouraging them to be “citizen gardeners” in their own communities.
We hope that raising awareness about the Park Service will help everyone understand the importance of our national treasures and what we all must do to ensure they are around for the next 100 years and beyond.