A hero is someone who works to change things toward a certain ideal or succeeds in making change, usually to the benefit of many others besides him or herself. Heroes come in just about every form and almost every group or cause has its heroes. One of the definitions for a hero is that they are someone who is "admired for qualities and achievements and is regarded as an ideal or model."(New World Dictionary, 657) There have been many men and women who I consider to be heroes for the National Parks, because they sought change, preservation, appreciation and protection for our National Parks. Most of the heroes that I have focused on used a form of art or a skill to draw people to want to experience the wilderness, and in turn protect it.
These heroes for the Parks include John Muir, Ansel Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, and the many boatwomen of the Canyon Country, particularly Georgie White. All of these heroes sought to establish, preserve or improve the parks, for the benefit of the public, so that anyone could experience and understand the love affair with the wilderness that they so loved. They saw these expanses of raw wilderness, and felt that they should be passed on to and enjoyed by everyone for generations to come. They also sought to educate people by using their own forms of expression and influence such as writings and photographs of these natural treasures. Their motivations were not just in the public interest, but also had more selfish goals in mind. All of these people felt it necessary to fight for the protection of the parks because they had formed intimate bonds with the places that they tried to save. Edward Abbey, yet another hero of the parks, expressed it best by calling it the...
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...e in some way they all believed that it is important to find a home for your spirit; that place in your mind must exist, and when you find it, it will seem as though heaven has come to Earth.
1. Roosevelt, Theodore. "A Speech at the Grand Canyon." New York Sun 7 May 1903
Taken from Filler, Daniel. "Conservation as the Guardian of Democracy". <http://pantheon.cis.yale.edu/~thomast/essays/filler/filler.html>
2. Abbey, Edward. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness. New York: Ballantine Books, 1968
3. Teal, Louise. Boatwomen of the Grand Canyon: Breaking into the Current. Tucson: U of Arizona Press, 1994
4. Library of Congress. "Today in History: July 19". <http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/jul19.html>
5. Muir, John. Our National Parks. Madison: U of Wisconsin Press, 1981
6. The New World Dictionary
7. Video: John Muir
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