America’s national parks stand as great monuments to the history of our nation. From that magnificent cathedral that is Yosemite to the Statue of Liberty and her famous invitation to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” so many of our national parks mark the greatness and promise that America holds for all of her people. But our parks also bear witness to some of the darkest moments in our history as well. Consider, for example, the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II or the Stonewall National Monument which memorializes the spontaneous demonstrations by members of the gay (LBGTQ) community in response to the violent police raid of the Stonewall Inn. It is essential that we understand what happened at these places and those like them as we come to understand the full American story – in all its beauty and imperfection – and consider what we will write for its next chapter.
Our hearts go out to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in Atlanta and across the nation for the pain and abuse experienced. In our quest to form a more perfect union, let us apply the lessons of history now, so the next chapter that is written is reflective of our nation’s true values. We can – and must – do better.