""I am a Park Ranger with the National Park Service. This means that I am a sworn Federal Law..."
"I am a Park Ranger with the National Park Service. This means that I am a sworn Federal Law Enforcement Officer, an emergency medical technician, a structural firefighter, a wildland firefighter, and a search and rescue technician. On any given day, my fellow Park Rangers and I may have to provide emergency medical care to a heart attack, seizure, or heat exhaustion patient, put out a burning motor home, search for a lost or overdue hiker in the backcountry, recover the body of a suicide victim, arrest an intoxicated motorist, extricate a car stuck in sand, fight a wildland fire, put down an injured animal, or issue a ticket to a visitor for littering, feeding wildlife, driving off-road, speeding, parking illegally, defacing or disturbing natural resources, building an illegal campfire, camping out of bounds, or any number of other violations. The general perception is that my job is glamorous and fun. On occasion it actually is. Most of the time, however, it’s just hard work. But I didn’t become a Park Ranger for the fun.
I believe our National Parks represent one our greatest continuing achievements as a nation and a society. Collectively, we have decided that these uniquely American places, rather than serving as simple commercial resources suitable only for exploitation, possess intrinsic value that goes beyond the quantifiable or tangible. We have chosen to maintain these places in perpetuity for not only ourselves, but our posterity. Many years ago, one of these unique places changed the course of my life, redirecting it from a negative course to a positive one. Without the National Parks and the Park Rangers that protect them and the people that visit them, I likely never would have turned my life around. This is why I am a Park Ranger today. I owe a debt of gratitude to the National Parks and the people of this nation who originally conceived, and continue to possess, the foresight to uphold the National Park ideal.
Being a Park Ranger is a sometimes difficult and thankless job. This fact in itself does not deter me, however. I know that the work that I do results in the betterment of the National Parks and the experience of those who visit them. I also know that the positive work I do not only affects the present but will also echo into the future and be recognized and appreciated by my children and their children, even if that appreciation might be anonymous. I derive satisfaction from the knowledge that what I do as a Park Ranger upholds the National Park ideal, the same ideal that changed my life for the better.
Today, however, I derive no satisfaction from my job. I still wake up in the morning and put on the green and gray uniform and flat-brimmed that I feel so privileged to have the honor of wearing. But rather than sharing in the discovery and wonder of the visitors to this grand place, I am now burdened with the onerous task of turning them around and kicking them out of their own National Park. I have to explain to them that the government of the greatest nation on this planet can’t agree on how to disseminate its funds, thus forcing me to evict them, despite the fact that for many of them, they have been planning and saving up for their trip to this place for months or even years, and some of them will never again have an opportunity to visit. In the meantime, we receive the ire from these same visitors that should more rightly be directed at you and your colleagues in the Congress. I have been fortunate thus far, but some of my fellow Park Rangers have been the recipient of insults and even threats to their lives. And due to the nature of my particular National Park, we can’t simply swing shut a gate and hunker down in our ranger stations. Every morning, we wake up, report for duty, and kick people out of their own National Park all while enduring this mistreatment. This condition is unpleasant enough by itself, but adding insult to injury, none of us are receiving a salary. This is not what I signed up for.
I can guarantee you that the Park Ranger you confronted at the National World War II Memorial on Wednesday shares my sentiments. She did not sign up for any of this. She would rather be doing the real work of a Park Ranger, not barring people from their own monuments while not receiving her deserved salary. I am truly at a loss to understand how you felt justified in treating her in the manner that you did. None of the current state of affairs is her fault, nor was it undertaken willingly or with any sense of satisfaction. She did not deserve any of the unkind words you directed at her.
In addition to being a Park Ranger, I am also a fellow Texan. I grew up in Plano and lived in my adult life in Austin and, later on, Alpine. My career with the National Park Service has taken me away from home and out and about in the American west. However, no matter how far I roam from Texas, I always conduct myself in the manner in which I was raised. I conduct myself as a Texan, and Texans, sir, do not behave in the manner that you did.
I implore you, as both a beleaguered Park Ranger as well as a fellow Texan, to apologize to the Park Ranger that you so unfairly mistreated on Wednesday. That is the very least she deserves.”
- Jacob Tung, US Park Ranger - Death Valley National Park, to Congressman Neugebauer. (via follow-the-journey)
That motherfucker almost have me a rage stroke.
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