Parks In The Morning

April 23, 2015Alanna SobelNPF Blog

This past Monday, the third day of National Park Week, I was among dozens who showed up at 6:30am for an early morning workout at Meridian Hill Park (part of Rock Creek Park). Groggy and not fully awake, I ran the hills around the park and found myself questioning why I forced myself up and out of bed so early just to dodge raindrops and completely exhaust my muscles. 

Runners in Meridian Hill Park

But then it hit me, there is no better way to start the day than being completely surrounded by the history, nature, and culture this park shares and preserves.

Running up the stairs, I thought about all the other people who have taken the same route over the years.

Where were they going?

What was life like back then?

(If you’re interested, you can read about the history of the park here.)

We’re so fortunate to have places like Meridian Hill Park where we can enjoy ourselves, relax, exercise, and reflect on the past.

Gathering of runners in Meridian Hill Park

Moving on to Earth Day, I was waiting on the bus and mentally scrolling through my never-ending  to-do list when suddenly the digital screen on the bus shelter caught my eye. The letters P A R K appeared over an image of Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site.

NPF digital ad screen displayed on bus shelter, displaying the words, \"Park\"

Even with the hustle and bustle of my morning commute, this image made me stop and think.

What would it have felt like to attend a segregated school?

How would I react if I boarded the bus and whites were in the front and blacks were in the back?

Would I have played an active role in the Civil Rights Movement?

While I hope to visit Little Rock Central High School someday, the truth is that it represents so much more than a physical place to me. It tells our shared story, our struggles as a nation, and the progress we’ve made and are still working toward. To me, parks invite us to see moments and experiences from multiple perspectives and for that, I am grateful. Thanks to parks, I am constantly growing and constantly being challenged.

Now it’s your turn. Why are you grateful for parks? I invite you to share your story at!

Photo credits: Matt Anzur/November Project DC, OAAA

Start a Conversation

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Stay Inspired
Connect with the parks you love. Sign up to receive the latest NPF news, information on how you can support our national treasures, and travel ideas for your next trip to the parks. Join our community.