A Road Trip Down Memory Lane
June 6, 2016
This post originally appeared on NationalGeographic.com.
Every summer when I was a child, my parents, three siblings and I packed our lives into a hot, humid car, left our home in Iowa behind, and drove across the country. We navigated open highways, stopping our journey in the evening to set up camp outdoors, on national park grounds. I still have vivid memories of those vacations—from staring into the dark expanse of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky to gazing down from observation decks at Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania.
I never realized that we took our annual family road trips because we could not afford the expense of an airline ticket or a hotel room. Those vacations seemed like much more than just a financial decision and still feel that way today. Every mile we drove brought my family closer and every historic site we visited connected my memories with those of millions of Americans.
Over the past century, our appreciation for the National Park Service has only grown. Through our foundation, we have supported preservation work stretching from Boston's Freedom Trail to Arizona's Grand Canyon. And, since 2015, as a champion of the U.S. Department of the Interior's goal of reaching one million volunteers annually on public lands, American Express has provided more than $13 million in funding to park-related causes that build communities and heighten individuals' connections to their local historic sites.
photo by: Library of Congress/HAER KY-18-4
Mammoth Cave National Park, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.
Since 2006, Partners in Preservation, a community-based partnership, has committed $16 million in preservation funding to more than 200 diverse sites in more than a dozen different cities across the country; increasing public awareness of the importance of preservation and inspiring long-term support from local citizens for historic and cultural sites at the core of their communities.
We encourage you to get involved by voting once a day for up to five parks from May 25 until July 5 at VoteYourPark.org, our online portal hosted by National Geographic, and showing your support for your favorite park by using #VoteYourPark and tagging @savingplaces on Instagram and Twitter posts.
My family's summer road trips taught me something important: our national parks are places that are passed down through generations and shared between diverse communities of people from different social and economic backgrounds. Our public lands and the legacies they represent belong to everyone who wishes to explore them. I encourage you to vote for your favorite parks and discover the special places that can bring your family and community closer together.
We encourage you to get involved in the Partners in Preservation: National Park campaign by voting once a day for up to five parks from May 25 until July 5 at VoteYourPark.org.
If you have a question or comment, please follow me on Twitter at @timmcclimon and start a conversation there. Thanks for reading and sharing this blog posting with friends and colleagues.