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Happy 236th Birthday America!

July 4, 2012

Since the founding of the Republic in 1776, the United States has grown from a loose confederation of 13 states into a nation of 50 “indivisible” states and several overseas territories and commonwealths. Like many ideas and  concepts in American history, like the ending of slavery or the granting of equal rights to women, the idea of preserving the growing nation’s cultural and natural resources developed over many generations. It was nearly a century after that first “Independence Day” that Yellowstone National Park was created in 1872. In 1972, a century after “America’s Best Idea” was born with Yellowstone’s establishment, the National Park System had grown to 284 official park units. Now, a full 140 years after Yellowstone, America’s national parks have grown to 397 and now stretch across almost every state and territory from the Caribbean to the Pacific, and from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico.

On this Independence Day 2012, we encourage all of our viewers to take the opportunity to spend time with friends and family in YOUR national parks. Not only are our national parks beautiful and historic places, but they are places that tell our story as a nation, including both our greatest achievements and our darkest moments as a people. So whether you decide to watch the fireworks on the National Mall in Washington, DC, or stroll across the battlefields of Gettysburg, or hike to the top of a mountain vista in Rocky Mountain National Park, or stare into an active volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, in all of these places you will become a witness to our unique national story. Aloha, Hafa Adai, and Talofa from the National Parks of the Pacific Islands on this July 4th!

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