Thursday, June 17, 2010

St. Augustine Record: Guest Column (excerpt): We need a national park and seashore


April 25, 2010

It's another beautiful day in a beautiful place. It's time to appreciate better St. Augustine's strengths and to let freedom ring.

...[P]lanning for four upcoming historic celebrations gives St. Augustinians a chance to let democracy work and to invite the world to visit us.


Four historic celebrations are rapidly approaching -- the 500th anniversary of Spanish Florida (2013), 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, made possible by a filibuster broken thanks to St. Augustine activists (2014), 450th anniversary of St. Augustine (2015) and 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (2016).

When Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar appoints members of the 450th Commemoration Commission, local citizens will be empowered to tell the federal government how we want to celebrate these anniversaries.

My answer: a St. Augustine National Historical Park, Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway (See Let's make St. Augustine the place where families take their children to learn about our history and our environment, encouraging everyone, particularly African-American and Hispanic families to visit St. Augustine and learn about our city's and nation's history. A park will increase property values while increasing income from higher-spending historic and environmental tourism. A park will help protect inviolate forever at least five current state parks; better protect St. Johns River Water Management District lands; restore threatened wetlands and wildlife habitat; preserve endangered species (like sea turtle and Anastasia Island Beach Mouse); protect our coasts from erosion; protect our homes from flooding and hurricanes; and provide better jobs at better wages.

National parks are a uniquely American idea, which capture and preserve America's history and nature and make them available to everyone. Parks begin with the dreams of passionate local residents, as shown by Ken Burns' 12-hour PBS series ("Our National Parks -- America's Best Idea").

It is up to us. Let us resolve to learn from the history of our city and the National Parks. The park promises solutions to our economic and environmental problems. Let's respect our visitors by presenting effectively our fascinating history and beautiful environment -- showing them off to the world, while preserving them forever!

Let every voice be heard. Let the celebrations begin. As JFK said, "Here on Earth, God's work must truly be our own."


Ed Slavin is chief information officer of Global Wrap LLC, former editor of the Appalachian Observer (Clinton, Tenn.), a graduate of Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and Memphis State University Law School, and author of the blog, He first proposed the St. Augustine National Historical Park, Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway on Nov. 13, 2006.

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