I had the special privilege to visit Oklahoma’s three National Park Service sites! The uniqueness of each site really amazed me so I thought I would write about what I liked and what each one is remembering or protecting.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial was different from the others as it is located in the city. It remembers the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the response, and the lives lost. It was not a cheery site to visit and it reminded me that we still have a long way to go as a society but there are also so many nice people out there who want to help. Everyone at the site was very nice and the rangers were super knowledgeable. The museum outside the park was so alive. It discussed the aftermath and during the moment and really made you realize the true extent of this bombing. All in all, I thought it was a fabulous park but I thought specifically the Survivor Elm was very inspirational as it survived the bombing it shows how we can grow back stronger than ever.
Washita Battlefield National Historic Site was again an incredibly unique park. It was the place where Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer attacked the Cheyenne on November 27, 1868. It was a massacre and this is a place to remember that we still need to work on our outlook on the world. I learned a lot about how the native people were treated on the Great Plains and what they thought about the settlers. They described them as a spider slowly taking the web through the grassland. Custer used a surprise attack at this place on the Peace Chief Black Kettle. They were peaceful with the settlers and wished to stop fighting but they were an easy target for Custer.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area is in southern Oklahoma. This was a place that was really into Junior Rangers! They had several different ones you could earn and lots of kids were participating. This is also a place for people to come see forests and lakes in Oklahoma and enjoy being outdoors. There were lots of people here enjoying the park and it was lots of fun to see all the things the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) has built here and the natural springs which still run today. The CCC was part of a New Deal program by President Roosevelt during the Great Depression. They were also known as Roosevelt’s Tree Army as they planted over 3 billion trees across the USA.
To help me learn more about the uniqueness of each National Park Service site, I like to do the Junior Ranger program. Each Oklahoma site has its own Junior Ranger program. They were extremely comprehensive and took some time to complete, but I definitely felt I learned more! I really feel it is important for people to go out and enjoy one of the 400+ National Parks sites across the country.