By the President of the United States of America
Theodore Roosevelt once said that nothing short of defending this country in wartime "compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land an even better land for our descendants than it is for us . . . ." In the movement to acquire and preserve areas of outstanding scenic or historical significance, Roosevelt blended science and morality in a highly effective and nonpartisan way.
The idea of creating national parks first attracted attention in the second half of the nineteenth century, when America's receding wilderness left our natural resources vulnerable to misuse and exploitation. The Yellowstone National Park Act of 1872 set aside the world's first national park and led the way for Federal protection of exceptional lands for public use.
As the number of early parks increased, many recognized the need for their collective management. The National Park Service was created by an act of Congress signed by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916. Today, almost 78 years later, the National Park Service oversees 367 national parks, including historic sites, monuments, parks, lakeshores, seashores, rivers, and scenic trails. The growth of the park system is a result of the American public's desire to protect the best and most significant treasures of our Nation.
National parks across the country, from Denali National Park in Alaska to Acadia National Park in Maine, allow us to learn more about our environment; they teach us to respect our lands and to care about endangered plant and animal species. Their spectacular scenic beauty and wide variety of wildlife link man and nature intrinsically and universally. The cultural and historic parks connect us with the spirit of our past and form a national family tree, celebrating our triumphs and remembering our tragedies.
Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim the week of May 23 through May 29, 1994, as "National Park Week." I encourage all Americans to join me in making National Park Week a truly American celebration of our heritage. We are challenged to protect and preserve our parks, to cherish them first, then to teach our children to do the same, so that they, too, can give this gift to their children.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighteenth.
William J. Clinton
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 9:11 a.m., April 15, 1994]