Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Working With Washington

Hello, my name is John Hesdon and I am the ProRanger stationed at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Independence is a unique park in that its resources, the things we are looking to protect, are almost entirely historical. Almost all of the work done on the park is in, around, or in sight of buildings of enormous value to the country and the society that shaped it. It is this unique work environment that enabled me to drink a Coke in the first bank of the United States, or see the view from the attic of revolutionary engineer and freedom fighter Thaddeus Kosciuszko (still working on the pronunciation, but I'm getting there). I am writing this very post from the oldest standing stock exchange building in the United States. History is intertwined with everything that is done here, directly or otherwise.

Recently I was lucky enough to be able to attend an inspection of the Liberty Bell with the division of Cultural Resource Management. There was a strange substance on the underside of the bell and an outside expert was called in to take samples and inspect. Being that close to the Liberty Bell was incredible. I can now say I have seen the underside, though given my giraffe-like frame I was not able to stand underneath like some of the others were.

While I was there something stood out to me almost as much as being underneath the Liberty Bell, it was how comfortable everyone was there. Though obviously and undoubtedly excited, the park employees performed their duties as if this were just a routine checkup rather than a potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They did so, of course, because to them it was just a routine checkup, just, as was stated several times, "part of the job". However, where in most places this familiarity might be the built on indifference, at the Liberty Bell it was happiness, everyone there was very glad that this was a part of their day-to-day

This feeling has been present throughout all of the divisions I've been to, that of doing a job that could be done in a million other spots but being lucky enough to do it in some of the most significant places in the country. From law enforcement rangers to maintenance workers to dispatch operators, nearly everyone I've talked to never fails to acknowledge and enjoy the place they do their job when asked about it. Where cynicism or boredom could be is instead respect and joy. Being able to work every day next to national icons, and being able to come in thirty years later and still get excited about them, is one of the things I believe that makes the National Park Service so special.

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