I have been waiting for this day when the Great Smoky Mountains National parks would have a rededication ceremony and the Roosevelt Monument at Newfound Gap in celebration do the parks 75th Anniversary for years, and with all my expectations I can't believe I was not let down.
This dedication ceremony was to be a modern day interpretation of the 1940 dedication event in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which was attended by president FDR, was the grand finale of the major events the GSM national park was hosting for the 75th anniversary of the formation of this park.
Almost 2,000 people attended the Rededication Ceremony held at the Roosevelt Monument which straddles the Tennessee and the North Carolina border in the Newfound Gap parking area of the Great Smoky Mountains national park.
Many of those who attended this historic event have deep roots in the Smoky Mountains and most of them where either born in what was to become the Great Smoky Mountains national park or are descendants of those who lived here.
Some of those very hardy men who built the Great Smoky Mountains national parks trails, bridges and roads who were members of the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) attended this event.
By now these men have become old familiar faces to me as they have been guests of honor numerous here in the past year such as at the CCC dedication ceremony at the Sugarlands Visitor Center where a plaque honoring the Civilian Conservation Corp was unveiled and at the groundbreaking for the new Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
As with all the other ceremonies, CCC corpsman Clarence Allison, the 3rd man down in the picture below wore his original uniform and hat.
Today some of those who were here for that historic occasion 75 years ago proudly wore ribbons as well as those who lived in what is now the park and those who built the roads, bridges and more than 800 miles of hiking trails that crisscross the park.
Lots of changes have occurred in the Great Smoky Mountains the past 75 years since the men on the CCC help turned it into the land stunning place it now is and most have them have been for the good of the national park.
Technology allowed us to make cell phone calls, check our email, update our Twitter accounts or transmit a signal via satellites so that people outside the park could see what was going on. Just think at the 1st dedication in 1940 wire was run in trees and across bushes and up the mountains in order to transmit this historic occasion.
75 years ago when 100 old Gudger Palmer (pictured above) was only 25 and lived in Cataloochee North Carolina, there used to be barely any black bear, wild turkey and white deer inhabiting the area which just became the Great Smoky Mountains national park. These and many other animals now flourish and even the casual observer in the park should see them most of the year.
Then there are the animals that have been wiped out of existence in what was once more than 6,000 private tracts of lands. Today the park service has brought the river otter, peregrine falcon and my favorite: the North American elk back into this area and they are all now thriving in this beautiful biosphere.
While this was a day for historic speeches made by politicians promising to make things better and of course the thrill of seeing Dolly Parton perform live, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park itself was the star of the day.
As our bus pulled up past the rain clouds up to the Newfound Gap Parking area, a lone tree just below the road displayed red and yellow tinges on some of its leaves - a gentle sign of fall color that would soon grace the Smoky Mountains.
As we disembarked from the shuttle the cooler air laced with the smell of fir washed over us moved the 3 American flags and the North Carolina and Tennessee state flags on top of the Roosevelt Monument wave in the wind. The only other decorations were 7 white and blue banners draped over the monument which also came alive as the wind came across the gap.
Sure the 75th anniversary of the original dedication of the Great Smoky Mountains national park was a great opportunity for politicians to press flesh with constituents and get to work in some impressive sound bites, nothing could beat the parks performance as the weather cleared up just as the program began and deteriorated with clouds moving in as Dolly Parton closed the event with her last song.
I had been waiting for this event for years all the while reflecting how wonderful this park is and I was not disappointed. I guess I must now look forward to the 100th anniversary dedication and hope that I will still be hiking as I do now in my 70s and reveling in the Great Smoky Mountain national parks beauty.