Air Force One taxis on an airfield and the entrance sign to Yellowstone National Park appears on the screen. Yellowstone’s Superintendent Suzanne Lewis greets President Obama and his family, while geysers steam in the background.
The White House just released two new videos of never before seen footage of President Obama’s historic visit to Yellowstone last year. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar opens the video noting how our National Parks are “a unifying American idea, fundamentally democratic and very much a part of our future.”
Ken Burns, the director of the recent documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, is also featured in the video. “The national parks to me are studies in leadership. How presidents have related to national parks have been in some ways defining aspects of their larger leadership quality.”
As he tours the park, President Obama fondly recounts a family trip to Yellowstone as a child. “I have great memories of being here. The thing I remember the most was driving by and seeing the elk and I remember bison.”
President Obama follows a long tradition of American presidents visiting Yellowstone, beginning with Chester Arthur in 1883. President Ford served as a park ranger in Yellowstone and called the experience “one of the greatest summers of my life.” President Carter took advantage of the splendid fishing in the park, and President Clinton visited twice while in office.
During his visit, Obama commented on the inspiration that our national parks provide to the American people. “The notion that collectively we come together and we say we are going to preserve something that lasts beyond our individual lives, that we’re going to pass that on, you know we have to do it together. That’s part of what is hopefully best about our government.”