By: Katherine Dvorak, NWHM Volunteer
In 1985 the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) declared July Park and Recreation Month to celebrate the countless public parks, open spaces and recreation locations spread out across the country. These are the places where communities come together for everything from recreation sports to neighborhood gatherings to family picnics.
In addition to local parks America is home to over 400 national parks, 550 natural landmarks, and 2,000 historic landmarks across the United States all in the care of the National Park Service. These are locations dedicated to the continued beautification of America and preserved in the name of the American public and those who visit.
My personal history with parks is long and varied, a history I’m sure is similar to many. As a kid my local park was where I spent countless weekend mornings playing recreational soccer and softball, riding bike trails and having neighborhood picnics. In high school I would run along nature trails and play fetch with our always-energetic family dog Striker. And currently I volunteer as an interpretive guide for Arlington House.
Built from 1802-1818 by George Washington Parke Custis and dedicated as a historic landmark in Robert E. Lee’s name in 1925. Arlington House sits atop a hill in the middle of Arlington National Cemetery, overlooking Washington, DC, one of many of sites dedicated to the preservation of America’s history. Everyday thousands of people visit Arlington House interested in its place in history, eager for stories of the family who lived there and to enjoy the beautiful grounds surrounding it.
Parks, both national and local, play a role in all of our lives. Whether as a rural community’s gathering place, a city dwellers escape into nature, or a place dedicated to the country’s history and beauty, parks serve as a place to get away and come together; a place to preserve our history and a place to create new memories. And they are always there for us to come back to.