tv National Park Service 100th Anniversary CSPAN September 5, 2016 11:29am-1:30pm EDT
mob-run bar in the 1960s, resulted in the pushback by the gay community. the event of stonewall inn which was a turning point -- it really wasn't specifically for the gay community. it was the lgbtq community rit large. this was a major turning point in the way we recognize this community's civil rights in this nation. and it spread across the country. it is the place that the national park service should be interpreting this story. >> you started out as an interpretative ranger in 1976. our bicentennial year. where did you work? >> right here in washington, d.c. in 1976, i was at the bicentennial information center. that winter, i worked at the jefferson. >> last question for you. do you have a favorite national park service site? >> with 412, i love all my children. >> dr. jarvis, thank you very much. >> thank you very much.
>> you're looking at a live picture of arlington house, the robert e. lee memorial. this is the national park service's most visited historic home and it was on this day in 1916 that president woodrow wilson signed the legislation that created the park service. we're here this evening at arlington house to talk about the park service and its history. we will also learn more about this special house and the people who lived here and how it's being preserved and interpreted by the national park service. we're joined tonight by robert stanton, former national park service director, and brandon bies, the former site manager here at arlington house, and obviously, park service employee who is also overseeing a year-long rehabilitation of the estate.
let me start with the story of how the national park service began. >> as the national park service was authorized by an act of congress, signed into law by president woodrow wilson, august 25, 1916. therefore, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the national park service today. and that legislation came about through the stellar efforts of many conservationists and civil leaders throughout the country. we're very proud to have that agency with us for 100 years. >> was it at all controversial at the time it was signed into law? >> it was in the sense there was sort of a misunderstanding in terms of some of the constraints that may be imposed by having one federal agency to administer our national parks, but i think the american people had developed an understanding and appreciation of the parks by the fact there were 35 parks that had already been established
before there was a national parks service. so it was an educational process. and at the time of 1916, the american public had a pretty good understanding of what the parks were about and what their responsibility would be as well. >> who was the earliest president to preserve national lands? >> well my recollections are that president lincoln signed legislation in 19 -- pardon me, 1864, passed by congress, designating yosemite valley and many of the large groves as a preserve to be maintained by the state of california, although it was federal ownership. it was transferred to the state of california. then after a period of time the area returned to the jurisdiction of the federal government. and today we know it as yosemite national park. >> well, brandon bies, this particular house is an interesting one because it merges the history of our first
president, george washington, and robert e. lee, who was the leader of the confederate army. people would be surprised to know that these two had a relationship through marriage, and i'd like you to tell that story and how that all happened. >> sure, absolutely. arlington house was built begin in 1802 by a gentleman named george washington park custs. he was the grandson of martha washington. he was essentially raised by george and martha as his parents. his father died when he was very young. he was raised at mount vernon and saw george washington and martha washington as basically his parents. he built the home begin in 1882 as a memorial and home but a memorial to our nation's first president. he had one daughter who survived to adulthood, mary, and that
daughter mary married a young u.s. army officer, robert e. lee, and that is how robert e. lee comes into this picture. again, this is arlington house, the robert e. lee memorial. it has his name but there is so much more than went on here than just robert e. lee. >> when i first came to this town a long time ago, i referred to this as the custis lee mansion. >> it was known as that for quite some time. it was established as a memorial, a historic home in 1925 by congress, then became part of the national parks service in the early 1930s. but it was an act of congress in 1955 that actually established this firmly as the robert e. lee memorial as arlington house. the reason it became a memorial to lee was not because of his duties and what he did during the civil war, but for what he did after the war. >> he had a pretty spectacular view. but washington, d.c. was really
nascent in 1802. >> it was a big swamp. it wasn't a wonderful place to look at. but george washington parke custis thought it was important to overlook this federal city, knew there were great things to come here. and it is an incredible view and that view changed quite a bit other the 55 years that george washington custis lived in this house. and to really a booming federal city by the mid-19th century. >> bob stanton, to give people a sense of place, so many people watching have been to arlington national cemetery. and this is the house on the hill above john f. kennedy's grave is that right? >> as you stand in the front, you can see the grave from that location. it is a prominent location and interestingly enough is that the estate, i think, included -- was it 11,000. >> 1100. >> 1100 acres which is now under
the park services, jurisdiction, i believe is 19 acres. so the arlington cemetery is situated on lands that were originally owned by the custis-lee family. >> but that isn't accidental that this is arlington national cemetery. i'm going to have you tell the story about this property, which was owned by robert e. lee at that point, then became a grave site for soldiers from the civil war. >> right. so during the war the property -- it's a fascinating story because when it became a cemetery, it was deemed to be owned by the federal government. of course the lees owned the property. it was actually in his wife's name, in mary's name. and of course the lees had to flee here at the beginning of -- the war, first robert went to richmond and then the rest of the family left in may of 1861. as the war went on, quarter master general montgomery meigs had a real issue on hand, which is what to do with the thousands of union soldiers who were dying
in the hospitals here. and up here on this hillside, arlington house had actually by then been confiscated. in the early part of the war an obscure law was passed that required certain people to pay their taxes in person. and there was really no way for mary lee, wife of the now famous confederate general to come here and pay the property taxes. the property was confiscated by the federal government, it was government property at that time. then in 1864, montgomery decided this would be the place to start burying union soldiers. some of the first burials are located mere feet away from the mansion. >> when people think about the national park service, they think about those grand vistas and these beautiful parks around the country. but really there's a lot more inventory that are historic places like that. can you talk about how the merger happened between big outdoor spaces and historic places?
>> the first national parks or areas administered by the park service were primarily located in the west, and they were created out of the federal domain as it were, especially through legislation and subsequently by the president, particularly president theodore roosevelt using the authorities of the antiquities act. and that situation continued up through 1933 when then our second director albright was able to convince the secretary of the interior and president franklin delano roosevelt to transfer many of the areas to the jurisdiction of the park service. president roosevelt bought into that and did in fact approve with the blessings of congress as it were with, the reorganization of the executive branch. through that act roughly 60 areas were immediately transferred to the jurisdiction of the parks service, including the civil war sites, revolutionary war sites, war of
1812, statue of liberty and the parks and the nation's capital were transferred plus the lee estate was transferred in 1933. >> this is the time of the civilian conservation corps. did people in society go to work to establish the parks and build them? >> i'm not quite sure of the particular work project here. my colleague might be able to respond to that. certainly, if you were to visit william park in virginia or go to the home of camp david or to the great smokies or to yellowstone, to any of the large parks, you can see the extra work that was performed back in the late '30s and the early '40s. >> after the reorganization, what would be the most critical park in the park service's history from that point and today? >> oh boy. the most critical part of the park service history?
that's tough. i mean we went through some pretty significant changes. 1960, the 50th anniversary of the national park service, what we call the mission 66 time period, there was an awful lot of infrastructure improvements that went on, new visitor centers that were built. an influx of money that went into the parks service. i would say the mission 66 time period had a really significant impact. >> i would fully concur with that. interestingly enough, mission 66 was authorized by congress in terms of funding, but it was the initiative of the secretary of the interior at that time and president eisenhower to celebrate the 50th anniversary through a major rehabilitation of all of the park areas. and it was known as my colleague says, from 1956 to 1966, is known again commonly as mission 66 program. one of the things we must recall, subsequently to 1933 to
the major transfer of areas to the jurisdiction of park service, we shortly entered the world war ii, followed by the korean war. so many of the nation's resources with directed towards the war efforts and consequently many of the parks did not have the kind of resources for the quality of care. so this was a major effort right after the korean war to rehabilitate the parks to the standards that all of us were seeking. >> let's bring us up to today. now the parks service has 413 sites. >> as of yesterday, yes. >> as of this week. yeah, a new one added. and the funds are always tight. how is this centennial year being used by the national parks service to help advance its mission? >> well there's a number of ways. one way that we're really trying to advance our mission is by increasing not just the numbers of people who go to national parks but the diversity of people who come to national park.
and you know, we are really trying to reach a younger more diverse generation. we've seen leading up to the centennial the grain of our visitors, if you will. and so really trying through new technology, through reaching out to different groups trying to get a more representative population of americans into these national parks. that's really been one of the big thrusts of the centennial. >> no question about that. it's critically important to really discharge the full responsibility of the park service, which is to touch or to connect with all america. and there unfortunately are some communities that are not truly connected with the richness and diversity of which is really our collective heritage. so through a number of efforts that is continuing -- i might add that congress, this administration and prior administration have given the park service some tools to achieve some of those objectives. one is through the employment of young people, given them hands-on experience through the
youth conservation corps authorized in 1970 as a part of the celebration of our 75th anniversary congress enacted a bill signed into law that authorized the park service to transport through its own -- or donated resources. young people from neighboring communities into parks for educational and recreational purposes. so again trying to make the connections and those self generated relationship with the parks. >> on this centennial of the national park service, american history tv is coming to you live from arlington house, the robert e. lee memorial. high on a hill overlooking washington, d.c., one of the national parks services most visited historic sites. coming up next, a ranger is going to give you a little bit of a tour of this place. we'll be back life in about ten minutes. >> so here we are in the main hallway at arlington house. the center hall was designed to impress.
remembering that george washington parke custis wanted this house for a memorial to george washington. he had the house designed to be like a gallery. to be monumental, to impress what he thought would be some of the most important people in the country who would visit. and then over the years presidents, congressmen and senators would visit him here at arlington house to learn more about george washington. the regional architect of the mansion is a man named george hadfield whom george washington personally invited to america from england to do design work on the nation's capitol, the capitol building. and so george hadfield was one of the most prominent architects of his day. this house has a great history of architecture in the history of the country as well. it's not just the people that lived here and the events that took place here, but the structure itself had great meaning.
it's one of those places, sometimes a historic house or a structure takes on a meaning because of the events that happen there or the people who live there. but this house was built to be consequential. so it has that history to it as well. and robert e. lee married into that. in this parlor, june 30th, 1831, under the archway where you can see the uniform and the dress on display, 24-year-old lieutenant robert e. lee of the u.s. army married 22-year-old mary randolph custis, the only surviving child of the family, the owner, the heiress to the property, a great granddaughter of martha washington. but this wasn't the only wedding that took place here. in fact it wasn't even the first wedding. the first wedding took place here ten years earlier when a woman named mariah carter married charles syphax.
what made that wedding important is that mariah and charles were both enslaved here, and mariah was in fact believed to have been the daughter of the master. so she was an enslaved woman from some type of relationship that existed in which george washington parke custis fathered a child by one of the enslaved women here, a woman named aryawna carter. and this is forcing us in many way to reexamine how we interpret the history of arlington. because here we have the story of slavery. and this place represents the founding ideals of this country. this home built to honor george washington and to celebrate the values and beliefs of the father of the country, the house itself built by slaves. but then you have the family as well, the family relationship.
and george washington parke custis in essence had two daughters. one was white, his heiress, she married robert e. lee. one was enslaved. both great granddaughters of martha washington. so in that regard george washington mark custis as a representative of the first first family of the country who spent 55 years of his life promoting and celebrating that, was in essence also representative of another aspect of the history of this country. and the simple truth is the first family in this country was biracial. so we recently reenacted that wedding with descendants of the syphax family in attendance, representing both mariah and charles. there was also another wedding that took place here and that
was the wedding of selena norris and thorton gray, also enslaved. selena, a maid in the house, and thornton gray, who worked in the mansion as well. so that was arranged and this wedding took place in this parlor. and selena gray and her family would live in one of the two historic slave quarters that we maintain, that still exist and that are going to be restored as a part of this big project as well. now you can see this room is somewhat empty of furnishings and that's representative of the fact that right now we are in the process of removing furnishings with artifacts from display so by the end of the year we'll begin the restoration project. but all of the furnishings have to be removed before we can do that work. you can see the boxes in place and preparation being made. as we walk down the hallway, you also see empty places on the walls. there are numerous --
historically there were numerous portraits hanging in this hallway. family portraits, historic ones of the washingtons and other members of the family. however, some of those have been removed. but at the same time, there are holes in our collection. and our new restoration project, through this generous donation by david rubenstein will allow us to acquire more original artifacts and reproductions of original artifacts including paintings so that we can represent the true appearance of this house as it was when the lees and custises lived here. but there will be examples that we will leave like this, this bare patch of plaster on the wall. this plaster, it's not just something we chose to leave exposed for no good reason. what we discovered about seven
years ago, a restoration project where we stripped down paint down to the plaster and we repainted different rooms, we found writing, graffiti. and some of this writing, it's very hard to see, very faint on but think we think predates the civil war. some of this predates the civil war and goes back perhaps to the earliest construction of the house and so it's something that we're leaving exposed because t9 is representative of that history and we want to be able to preserve it and perhaps in the future find a way of even interpreting it. we're not exactly sure what the writing says so it is a mystery that is going to be left to us to solve in the future. we at arlington house are very
excited that our recent donation and our ability to restore the mansion and create new exhibits is not only possible but that it coincides with the centennial of the national park service. it gives us an opportunity to examine and reexamine what this place meant over the last several decades since the national park service first took it over in 1933 and what it means moving into the future. because as a country we always need to examine and reexamine our history in order to decide where we want to go forward. and arlington house is an amazing place to be able to do that. so we can examine the meaning of the civil war. we can examine the meaning of the life of robert e. lee, the
lives of the enslaved people here, the consequences of that war. surrounding this mansion, arlington cemetery was created. both as a means to honor the dead but, again, as a way of gain i gaining revenge or justice, perhaps, if you want to call it that, against robert e. lee. but how do we as a country view the events of that war and its after effects. the period of rerconstruction? well, arlington house is determined and the national park service is determined to seize the opportunity to move forward and perhaps lead the nation here in an effort to come to terms with that period and time and to make more of it. to make something of it that can
help us move as a nation around a culture into the future. the theme is division and reunion. well division perhaps is easier to define but reunion? what does that really mean? we know the country was reunited north and south. but in many ways this country remains divided so what can be learned here at arlington house, the robert e. lee memorial that will help americans and people from other parts of the world, too, to examine that, examine their own believes and see what they can make of it moving into the future. >> arlington house, one of the national park services properties on this centennial of the park service that we are
talking about tonight live from this most visited site here overlooking washington, d.c. brandon and bob are two guests for our live program tonight and the full tour of arlington house if you've never been fortunate enough to get here will follow our live program tonight. we'll talk about that last thought that matt penrod had about learning and interpreting. but i want to give statistics to our audience, this is from the "wall street journal." part of what we're learning about our park service on its anniversary. estimated market value inps lands and properties $62 billion and there's 84.6 million total acres, $2.85 billion is the congressional appropriation for this year. total revenues the parks take in from sites, $591 million.
and as we said earlier, the park service is responsible for 413 sites as of this week. the president announced a new one in the inventory. so bob stanton, over the course of our lifetime, the last part of the -- the last century, americans became more aware of the need to not sanitize our history, to tell our complete and complex story. and that job fell largely on the park service to do that at our historic sites. how did that evolution in telling the story happen inside the park service? >> well, it happened inside in terms of employees understanding that they need to be more factual with respect to telling the full dimension of the american experience drawing up the organization of american story and college universities, independence college, using the best of scholarship to reveal to the american public as they
visit their national park the full story of the events of the individual involved with that nation pal park but i must tell you also that the american people felt it was time to reflect on all the circumstance s that brought us into the 21st century in terms of the liberties and freedoms we enjoy today. as a result through the efforts of the american public congress enacted bills signed into law by presidents giving the park service responsibility to commemorate areas that reflect some of the difficult, controversial periods in our history. so american people want to know what is the experience in its totality. >> so twofold is acquiring new properties that help tell the story differently but also rethinking about the properties that we already had.
what is it like for interpreting for the public? >> here at arlington house it's a fascinating example. we're very, very fortunate because of the generous donation from david rubinstein that we have the opportunity to take another look at the interpretation and how we tell that story and many generations who have visited here certainly early in this site's history when it was first established they learned about certain occupants and certain people who lived here. they learned about robert e. lee, george washington, park custis, their wives around children. but this was not a place where six or ten people lived, this was a place where 80 people lived. and the majority of them, at least 63 on this plantation, were enslaved african-americans. and we have to do a better job telling that story, that inclusive story, about what it was like for those people, what
their experiences were like and how the groups lived and worked together because you can't just tell one story, you can't just tell the if lee and the custis story inside the house and tell the slave story and black story out back because they were in both places. and it's important to tell that story as one story. >> one thing people may not know is how much scholarship goes into the work of the staff and volunteers who work at these sites. can you talk about the training that people go through before they meet the public in places like this? >> sure, absolutely. our interpreter is right. as much as some people might like to, you don't want to go out to go out and start talking to the public. it's good to have experience to shadow other park rangers. for new rangers and volunteers at arlington house we have an l
hundreds of books here on everything imaginable and a dozen or so must-reads that our staff and volunteers look at so they can be well versed of the occupants, the history that went on here and we have the folks doing this research for us. sometimes it's staff but sometimes we're fortunate, we have great relationships with certain universities around here. marymount, howard university. we have folks coming in sending a great deal of time and effort helping us perform the research. >> we have worked with the park service a lot, you work with people who are getting their masters and ph.d. >> they're doing a fantastic job and they recognize they need to stay abreast with new scholarship as it were and there have been many more use of primary materials that are
revealing unknown or untold stories and historians and interpreters and preservationists stand fully abreast of those changes. i might add, this is somewhat of a philosophical view that there have been many areas added to the national park system within the past three, four decades that really commemorate some very difficult periods in our history. but i liken that into the maturing of a people and nation and that we can recognize and hopefully learn from the grievous mistakes that we have made and we're not afraid to tell the stories, that we've made some mistakes. "brown v. board of education," little rock central high school, tuskegee airmen that we fought as a segregated military. we tell those r those stories and hope we would gain from them. and we were very fortunate at the park service to have the
volunteer leadership and contribution of one of america's most preeminent historian, the late dr. john hope franklin. we should not allow ourselves to wallow in remorse but remove to become better resolved to become a better citizen. >> over the past couple of years we seem to be in another period where we're examining as a nation how we feel about the people who fought in the civil war on the confederate side. there's been the big debate in south carolina about the flying of the confederate flag. memorials are coming down around the country but here we have a place recognizing robert e. lee. help me understand how you're in the midst of something that could be controversial. how are you doing that? >> we get that question a lot,
why is there a memorial to robert e. lee? he lost, he was a traitor. and, again, the reason is because of what he did a after the civil war in reconciliation, reunification, ending the war, telling former confederates to embrace the union again and make the country great again basically. he felt strongly about that. we hope this can be a place for dialogue. we want people to ask those questions. we want to hear what people think about these symbols because they mean different things to different people and at the park service we want to provide that contest and create that dialogue for people to continue that conversation because it's a constant conversation. today it's the confederate flag in five or ten years it might be something else. >> i might add that in 1966
congress passed a will signed into law authorizing the national historic perez straight act, for the first time to have a comprehensive national program to address the caring for our collective heritage resources but also in caring for them to s to tell the full dimension of the american experience. by the way, we're celebrating the 50th anniversary of the national historic preservation act and it's a great opportunity for people to we rey examine where we've come in 50 years and where we're going in terms of preservation and interpretation and understanding of clektive heritage. >> we hear this is a uniquely american idea. is that true? >> well, it's attribute to an outstanding writer and philosopher, wallace stagner said that said national parks
are the best idea one can debate. but what sets the parks aside are different from other countries in that these were public parks open to all who could come, where the parks previously had been established for a select audience but these were the people's parks and that was the total intent when congress first set aside yellowstone as our first national park and subsequently yosemite came back to the federal jurisdiction. >> speaking of die logs, we're hoping to have one with you later on in our program. we'll open up our phone lines and if you want to get in cue, you can do that. 202-748-8900, mountain and pacific time zone viewers including alaska 202-748-8901. dial that carefully so you get to us and not someone else. you can also tweet u
us @c-spanhistory or our facebook page, facebook.com/c-spanhistory and we'll mix comments in for our guests. the dialogue is about the national park service on its centennial questions. if you want to tell us about your favorite park and why you think it's important preserve it. and if you have specific questions about arlington house, brandon biles is here to tell us about that. we're about to hear about charles sigh fax. who is he again? >> charles syphax was one of the housekeepers. >> we're going to hear of his descendents, steven hammond, who is telling the story of his
family members and others who worked here to put this whole place together some 60 plus people for the lee family and we'll learn more about how that history is being preserved next. >> my name is steve hammond, i'm retired from the u.s. geological survey, that's a sister agency to the national park service. in my work there i was the deputy associate director for natural hazards which dealt with earthquake, volcanos, landslides, a variety of natural hazards that affect the united states. my connection with the syphax family is an interesting one. my third grade grandmother actually was a slave at decatur house in washington, d.c. and her brother is charles syphax, who actually was a slave here on arlington national cemetery property we go way back in terms
of their connections to mount vernon and the local area here. charles actually was a dower slave at martha washington's estate at mount vernon. we believe he was born about 179 17 1791. he basically became kind of a support footman for george washington park custis. as a young man he actually was living on the estate with his grandparent grandparents and he inherited arlington estate once martha died in 1802. about 1802 we believe he tactually had relations with a slave, airy carter, another dower slave at mount vernon. together they had a daughter named mariah carter who ultimately married charles syphax here at the arlington estate in 1821.
charles had an affinity to watch mariah grow up. interestingly enough, george washington parke custis allowed the couple to actually marry here at the house in the parlor which is unheard of with regard to a slave family that has actually owned, not too many times has that happened. they were married in 1821. shortly after that they began to have children, first child was born in 1823, a second one in 1825 and shortly after the second child was born william syphax was born george washington parke custis decided to sell uma rhea. the folklore in our family has suggested he simply freed mariah and her children and gave her 17
acres of property. but in the last several months we've actually found documents in the alexandria circuit courthouse that suggest that george washington parke custis actually sold maria and her two children to a quaker. quakers, as you may recall, were really abolitionists in terms of war and slavery and so it was their goal to try to help free slaves in the area. from the deed that we have in 1845 from william stabler we know they freed maria and all of her children but this deed dates back to a previous deed that his father, edward stabler, the apothecary shop owner in alexandria, and george washington parke custis struck in 1825 to actually free them. it's interesting because in the laws in the state at that time were such that if you were freed and couldn't support yourself
you needed to leave the state in terms of being a freed slave but george washington parke custis wanted maria to be close by. so if you follow my story here, her husband, charles syphax, was not freed. he continued to be a slave but maria and her two children were freed but were given 17 acres of property at the south end of arlington estate where they lived free for the rest of their lives as a result of having follow-on children, all of them were born free as well. there are a couple of children very prominent in the syphax family. very interesting enough, once these children were freed they had an opportunity for education. one of the prominent older children, second child, first son of the syphaxs is william syphax. we know he was probably educated in alexandria arlington area as well as georgetown. he ultimately went to work for
the department of the interior in the 1850s, he worked for a number of secretaries the interior and actually became a head messenger for the department of the interior and went on to become the first president of the colored trustees of the colored schools in washington, d.c. >> there were a number of ancestors and descendents of these folks, the syphaxs, that have made a prominent impact on our country. one example would be creston gleed, a tuskegee airman. we have a number of women who taught around the country. we have 30 syphaxs that we know that attended howard university. several of which turned around and became teachers at howard university we have a well known
teacher who was a very prominent surgeon professor teacher at howard university. and we have jewel i don't know d -- julian dixon, a congressman from california, who passed away in 2000 but served in the u.s. congress for close to just over a decade. >> the syphaxs have a long legacy here at arlington estate. in 1860s after -- when the civil war began the lees left the property. robert e. lee left, departed and became general in the virginia army and as his wife also left fearing that there would be problem with the federal governme government. it was considered a stronghold, a try protect washington, d.c. and it was overrun by a number of u.s. army soldiers the lees
asked the slaves to tend it, believing they would be here after the war. they had no idea how long the war would last but they felt they would return. as a result of, that several years later the u.s. government modified the tax codes stating that owners of property needed to pay their taxes in person. well, mrs. lee could not pay her taxes in person and as a result the property was taken by the u.s. government as a result of taxes not being paid. in addition to that property being taken, the syphax property at the southern end of the estate was taken because there was no proof that the syphaxs owned that property. some years later, about 1866, the syphaxs' oldest son working in the department of interior actually had the opportunity to work with congress to make a plea to have the property
returned. by the late -- mid-1866, the bill was taken up by the congress and to this day we know that a bill was approved around signed by the president andrew johnson i believe in june of 1866 which returned 17 acres to maria syphax to live there in perpetuity. so that's a really big deal for the family in terms of knowing that they had this compound but they couldn't prove they owned it. but now we had congress here to prove this was their property. my ancestors passed down to me an understanding of our history and it's been important to me and my cousins to basically pull together with the park service with the research staff at mount
vernon, with the leadership of the white house historical association as well as with the new african-american history museum in washington, d.c. being open by the smithsonian just a month or two to work together to try to help tell a more clear, fully laid out story about the african-americans, in particular the syphax family here at arlington. i believe that while the story of robert e. lee and george washington parke custis is important, there is so much richer story in terms of the enslaved people that lived here and our goal is to really try to help inform the public about what actually occurred there. and one of the things that we would like to do as a result of the land being taken away is to really recognize the lives and the efforts that people put into this. one of the goals i have that for this is that one day we would be able to -- in the tours that we have here at arlington to be
able to say this area over here is where the syphaxs lived. they had a prominent role along with many other enslaved americans who now are free and have done things for our countr country. >> on this 100th anniversary of the national park service we are live from arlington house overlooking washington, d.c. talking about the parks system and how it interacts with the american public to tell the men story. our guests, bob stanton former director of the national park service and brandon bies who has spent his career in the national park service and is charged with reinterpreting this house, a big project over the next year. we'll learn more about how he'll do it. what an interesting story about the syphax family and we heard about how much family members in the community were part of retelling the story. how much does that happen, bob stanton, in other sites around the country where descendents are wanting to be part of retelling stories? >> it's a critical part of the
story that's been told at a number of sites throughout the country as well as sites that represent major events for instance, take the tuskegee airmen national historic site in tuskegee, alabama. many of the men who fought in the military have been interviewed and they visited with the public at historic site s. at many of the sites in which we have the commemoration of american indians, many of the indian tribes participated in the preservation and interpretation and educational and youth outreach program at those individual sites. it's something we did not do -- i say "we" i haven't spent 35 years with the park service -- on a large scale 30 years ago but it's become an important feature of how we're interpreting these stories and these rich areas.
>> we have asked people to send us messages by facebook and we're going to take telephone calls but i wanted to mix in a couple of our facebook apps. we asked how can the national park service better serve and engage the public and here's a comment, for example. the national park service says michael cherenski does a great service. if americans better supported their nps by lobbying their representatives and getting the agency funding those parks might be better maintained, sustained, and be even better places to visit. that's probably music to both of your ears. but what is the relationship like with congress and in a time of tight budgets does the park service get its due? >> is there some way i can defer that question?
one has to recognize the national park service is a bureau within the department of interior and within the executive branch. and each department, each bureau within those departments have to compete for discretionary federal fund iing. it's incumbent upon the leadership of the park service through the office of management and budget to make the best case for its need. would it be the rehabilitation of the memorial bridge which has been in the news recently. ? the preservation of the fragile ecosystem in the everglades? the magnificent structures at mesa verde in colorado? all of these parks have needs and we realize the federal budget can be spread so far so, again, it's incumbent upon the park service, secretary of the interior, to make the best case for an increased budget.
>> well, here's the flip side of that from sanders lamont who wrote to us on facebook. "the parks management must recognize that parks are for everybody, not just upper income, and make access easier and less expensive. as congressional support has declined over the years, fees have climbed to a point where one-third of the americans cannot afford lodgings or campgrounds. the $20 or $25 entry fee is keeping people out of the parks." >> economic circumstances certainly has to be weighed in terms of trying to achieve full accessibility for all americans, all america. all recreational entrance fees that are paid by the visiting public now are retained 100%, by the national park service to be used for resource preservation, enhancement of educational and
recreational program and also that the individual may never have the resources to travel from washington, d.c. to my first park, grand teton. new areas have been added to the national park system in close proximity to urban centers. take fraction gateway national recreation area in new york, santa monica recreation area in los angeles, chattahoochee in atlanta, georgia, cuyahoga between cleveland and akron. those parks are within walking distance of a large significant population and that's the result of the american people saying that we need to have parks to meet our outdoor educational recreational needs and congress again represented the american people having responded by adding those areas to the park syste system. >> does it cost to visit arlington house? >> it does not.
in fact, within the district of columbia, which we are just outside, no national parks charge fees for entry and i would say i believe the majority of national parks, as in over half of them, do not charge. >> that's correct. >> so there are -- there should be a number of parks close to hopefully many, many people that they can visit with no fees. those parks that do collect fees, the fees do play a critical role to the infrastructure in that 80% of those fees stay within that park to go right back to things that can help the visitors, new facilities, new exhibits, in trails. >> and the other 20% is applied or made available to the parks that do not have the benefit of fees. >> we are wrapping up our first of two hours talking about the national park service on its centennial and it's time to mix in your phone calls. first is from calvin in decatur, georgia. calvin, welcome to our conversation. >> caller: thank you. thanks for taking my call. i was sad this morning, i was
told by the trail of -- i think it was the april 16 celebration of the 100th year of the national park service and i learned a heck of a lot about the national park service. but also, my basic question is, is there an effort to capture volunteers for the national park service? i would very much like to be engaged and such as a retiree. i'm an avid fan of parks. i visited the cumberland park on the coast of georgia. it's really the only barrier island and also the chattahoochee 2345natural area metro area in which i used to run a lot there and what not. but, again, my basic question
is, is there any effort to capture volunteers for the national park service and if so how can that be accomplished? >> yes, sir, i want to commend you on your offer to be of service. yes, the national park service has the benefit of over 200,000 individual volunteers as well as many groups that make substantial contribution to help enterrorism visitor experience. if you have a particular park, just simply call that superintendent or the chief ranger or interpreter. e-mail them, walk into the office and say "i want to volunteer" and they will gladly accept your services. it's a question of how best to match your interest and the your skill with the wide array of functions for which the park service is carrying out in a given park area. >> if you go to the web site
nps.gov, national park service, you can search for a park by state, you can look at a map, get a list by state, look at those parks near you, click on any park near you and there will be a contact page there and you send a message in there and i guarantee you, you will get a response because we are thirsty for volunteers. >> next up is will in tulsa. will, you're on our program, welcome. >> caller: i thank you very much and i'd like to say happy centennial to the national park servi service. ichd the lovely experience of going to the grand canyon, i wasn't able to spend as much time as i would like. my question is osage county, in ex-to tulsa, native american lands, is there any prospect or hope that perhaps some of the prairie -- tall grass prairie in the midwest can be saved for
national park designation? i know it's kind of boring, you go out there, see a bunch of tall grass, but the heritage is such that i would be interested and thank you for the question. >> thank you for the question. there is a tall grass prairie park but it is a small representation of the vastness of tall grass throughout the midwest and there may be areas that might warrant steady to see whether or not it could possibly be preserved either by the federal government, by the state, or by private interests. >> this is not always hearts and roses, though, when a parcel of land -- when the government has its eye on for preservation. you get into states issues and private property issues. how does that get out? >> it's interesting to note that the true thing to that the national park service cannot do
through its directory, it can not create a national park nor when a park is created to divest its interest in preserving that park. parks primarily are creating through two primary sources through an act of congress or the president can exercise his authority under the antiquities act of 1906. it's been used 19 times and i believe president obama has used that authority 24. and i was a member of the clinton administration, president clinton used it 19 tim times. interestingly enough, congress has enacted legislation that the park service can expend up to
$25,000 for a reconnaissance study to determine whether or not an area should be considered in addition to the national park system. but only through an act of congress can official study be authorized to spend x number of dollars to do a feasibility suitability steady. >> we have a tweet from a viewer called call called ska city. asking "there been any confirmed mountain lion sightings in the appalachian trail in the last few years?" can you answer that? >> i could not. >> let me ask you about the intersection of wildlife in the parks and people coming to see th
them. >> it's a continuing challenge and the way to really counter, if you will, native animals and people of conflict is to really acquaint the american public be what is expected of their conduct. parks are not zoos and they are not tame animals. they are wildlife in their own habitat. and the american public has to be respectful of that. through this educational orientation process there has been a continual reduction in terms of the conflict between wild animals and people who want to enjoy wild animals. >> now that everyone has their cameras and cell phones, you see -- and last time i was in yellowstone i was really amazed at people getting out of their cars and getting what looked to me like awfully close to wildlife that are not thereto for just photo ops. >> that is true.
we discourage -- i still say "we." the national park service discouraged that. and we understand that there is a tendency to get as close as possible to get the right shot and say that i saw a bison or an el income their native habitat but it's not encouraged? >> brandon? >> i was about to say a lot of the examples, the great western parks but even in these urban areas we have these encounters. in my time as site manager we had owls and foxes and we even recently have coyotes confirmed here right on the property here overlooking washington, d.c. and we have animals that get sick and we need to educate our visitors that the park service typically does is we allow the natural processes to move through and that's what's best for nature and we try to inform people of that and let them see things but not rush in to save the day. >> that's correct. >> david is watching us in new orleans and you're on, david,
welcome. >> caller: hi, my question has to do with what y'all refer to, arlington house. my question is number one when was it built, who built it and i've never been there personally but from the images on television it appears to be a monumental greek temple. where did that come from? >> thanks, we did tell a bit of that history which clearly you missed so if you could briefly tell us. >> i'm thrilled to take that. the house was built over a period of 1802 to 1818 by george washington parke custis. the house was physically built by a sizable number of enslaved african-americans as well as other laborers. it was designed by george hadfield who was one of the early designers of the u.s. capital building and, indeed, it
is made to -- the greek revival style it's a massive property, the room we're in right now is 18-foot ceilings and it was really made to look almost like a temple-like structure as a memorial monument to george washington. >> now, washington as you said was a swamp at the time and how did the family survive the summers here? >> it was hot but sometimes down by the river -- sometimes the river was a blessing but sometimes a curse. there would be cool breezes but there was a lot of swamps and mosquitos and it was not always a pleasant place. they didn't have air conditioning back then. up here on this ill there's a nice breeze sometimes and you open up the doors and windows in the front and back and you did the best that you could. >> george washington parke custis is the step grandson of the first president, how long is
a distance between here and mount vary nonand how long will it take him to travel? >> we're probably about 15 miles north of mount vernon from here and that would have been accomplishable in a carriage ride over the course of a few hours. it wouldn't have been like it was today but you could do that trip in less than half a day or so. the family when they lived here frequented alexandria, old town alexandria, took carriages there, went to church there. so that was an hour carriage ride. >> how long did she survive the president? >> just about a year. >> so she would have passed away? >> correct. by that time martha washington passed away. >> julie julie is in california. you're on. >> caller: thank you to the national park service for all the wonderful things they have done for all of us. a lot of times we look past the
gifts we have closest to us. i'm near sequoia national park. for ten years our city has had a shuttle for $15 you can go round trip from our city to sequoia national park where the general sherman tree is and one of the challenges that everyone faced up there was when the park service made the determination that they needed to go back to the natural state because the giant sequoia tree, their root system was being threatened by all the buildings. they did an incredible job. so my question is -- first of all thank you and happy birthday. we just had our 75th anniversary and 150th of sequoia national park. my question for you today is i
wonder what challenges face the national park service in the next 100 years. >> thank you for that question, don't spend too much time, we'll talk about that in more detail later on. what's the biggest challenge to the parks? >> i think we have alluded to on several occasion is that while we can argue that one of the challenges is budget, additional staff, invasive species. the biggest challenge is to first recognize wear nation of over 300 million citizens of all walks of life, all backgrounds. we have the obligation to connect, at least provide opportunities for those citizens to connect with their heritage known as national parks or the national park system. that is a great challenge.
if we don't create that opportunity to have that connection with their own parks, they will not be the ultimate supporters or stewards of these parks. that is a continuing challenge. >> so a tweet from yolanda patience who wants to know once the nps has a property how do you figure out trails and allowing the trail system so that people can enjoy it and still preserve the environment. >> we try to create trails that will respect citizens with disabilities but any facility that is to develop in a park is subject to a planning process in which the american people
through the established procedures have an opportunity to comment on the merits of that given area. and in many instances it might require an environmental assessment and to some degree it might require an environmental impact statement to reach a sound decision and the public if they're not satisfied with the decision reached through that process can ultimately go to the courts and there have been many case cases where they've been taken to courts and we don't believe that's an appropriate way to develop the park and i cannot underscore enough the importance of public involvement in that process. >> well, we'll go back to touring this house, arlington house. and by the way, we should explain this gave rise to the city that's right here. so the name arlington came from where, exactly? >> so we believe it came from england originally. there's a town in england called arlington.
there was the earl of arlington that was the basis of the name for the plantation from the custis family on the eastern shore and that was many years before arlington when george washington parke custis built this house here, he took the name, he borrowed the name from that arlington plantation on the eastern shore, brought it here, called it arlington, that then turned to arlington cemetery, arlington city and everything we call arlington here today. >> arlington city and county, a thriving area here right across the river from washington, d.c. so we'll go back to touring this place and, again, matt penrod will tell us more about the interpretation of robert e. lee's life here. let's listen. >> and here we also have the one portrait of robert e. lee in the mansion. it shows him as a young army officer. it's not the version of robert e. lee most people expect. people think of robert e. lee as the great confederate general.
but what arlington represents is his life before the civil war, hiss family life, that he married his wife here, that six of their seven children were born here, that this was the place hi sacrificed to make the choice he did at the beginning of the civil war to side with virginia, to fight for a larger concept of what he considered to be his home and family. but it came with a very knowing sacrifice and while robert e. lee would be in the minds of many during that war and the years to follow somewhat of a villain in history, labeled a traitor to his country by the u.s. government and still a controversial figure, many times during his lifetime, including many officers and soldiers who fought for the union, respected lee because of the sacrifice he was willing to make.
it was a congressman from saginaw michigan whose father served in the union army during the war and fought against robert e. lee's army in virginia who first proposed the legislation that would dedicate this house as a them withdrawl to robert e. lee. such was the respect he had. >> this is one of the oldest rooms in the house and one of the most significant. it was built in 1804 and it was an -- in 1811 that robert e. lee and his family visited arlington and he was four, mary custis, his future wife, was just two and a half. so we like to think this might have been the room when they first met as young children. there is a story and family tradition that suggests they were childhood sweethearts
growing up. but he suffered a number of tragedies, his father died when he was quite young. so he had to take life very seriously from a young age and devote himself to a career in the army. he went to west point. then following that he turned his attention to miss mary custis at arlington and courted herb and married her and became a part of this family. . now this room, then, in many ways is perhaps the best room that symbolizes how he was connected to this place. almost his entire life. arlington meant something important to robert e. lee. and almost all of it revolved around the relationship he had
with his wife mary. now mary and her father used this room in different ways but especially as a painting studio. they were both passionate artists. she did two of the paintings you see next to the window over here to the left but here's also where you see some of george washington parke custis's important revolutionary war scenes. all of these paintings done as the great hero of the revolution. the indispensable man, you see him on his white horse at the front of the army. just within feet of the lines of the british or germans in this case in the battle of trent on.
it was also to promote washington and his believes, his ideals and values. before the revolution it was deeply divided between the followers of thomas jefferson who believed in limited national government, states right, the rights to leave the union, the right of nullification, the right of armed rebellion against the national government. washington was the opposite of all of those things. washington a true nationalist who believed this was a perpetual union. well, when custis started building this house in 1802, the man who was president of the united states was thomas jefferson so some believe custis built this house on this prominent hill in the greek revival fashion out front almost as a way of thumbing his nose at jefferson across the river.
he definitely meant this place to make a political statement. he declared this house a federalist house this was to represent the believes and ideals of george washington and that included, once again, the idea that this nation would exist forever and that no state had a right to leave it. so then that man's daughter married robert e. lee who became the great confederate general and perhaps the man who came closest than any other man in history to destroying the nation that was created in the american revolution. and it was in the room just through that door way that robert e. lee made that choice. he made that decision to side with virginia, to leave the union. he was a u.s. army officer. again, 32 years. prior to his commission he spent
four years at west point, he spent his entire adult life in the service of the united states army. he loved his country and he also believed in preserving the union. but when virginia left the union, he could not fight a war against home and family. that's how he stated it in letter after letter after letter. he had great heart and soul over making this decision but that was the only choice he felt he could make. but lee was first offered command of federal troops lincoln really wanted him to command what would become the union army, the army that would cross the river, suppress virginia and save the union and lee turned it down.
that was perhaps the great pivotal moment in american history. in historians believe if lee had chosen to accept president lincoln's offer the war would have been over sooner, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been spared but at the same time great social change that occurred in this country because of that war including the abolition of slavery might not have happened or might have happened very differently. we'll never know. it's one of those unanswerable questions. but it's very clear that the decision robert e. lee made in that room had a profound influence on the course of american history. he did not know that. he had no way of predicting that, of course. but one thing he did know that was very clear, because that view out front, he knew the union army had to take over arlington to defend washington.
arlington may have been one of the most important properties in the entire country because which ever army controlled it, the heights here at arlington, controlled the fate of the nations capital. it had to be held at all costs by the united states army, lee knew that. and so he expected when he left here two days after resigning that his family was likely to lose their home. his hope was that the family would be able to rush here when the war was over but they were aware this war was not going to be short, it was going to be terrible, long, and bloody, the lees became more and more resigned to the fact that they would never live in their home again. and they never did. >> and you're hearing the story of the robert e. lee family who were the occupants of the house, lost it during the civil war.
on this centennial of the national park service, thanks for being with us on american history tv. our two special guests for this two our live program are bob stanton, former director of the national park service spent his life and conservation of american history and even those who retired, you're still involved in all this. working on it. >> and brandon bies with the national park service and has the big task, happily, nicely funded, of restoring this place. so someone walked in now, it looks ragged around the edges. one day david rubinstein co-founder of the carlisle group is very wealthy man who has become quite a philanthropist, walked in here and what did he do? >> he saw the same thing. and fortunately for us he contacted the director of the national park service and said this is a significant historic home for america and the stories it tells and how can i help.
he asked us what did he need so we were fortunate that we were able to tailor our specific needs for all kinds of things for the museum objects for telling the historian and for the physical fixes and construction that needed to happen. not just to the buildings but the historic grounds and gardens and we were able to present that to mr. rubinstein and he generously donated $12.35 million to make that happen. >> over $12 million. when do you get started? >> most likely the springtime frame. we've been busily working going through the planning process. that never sounds like fun but in a sensitive historic place you can't just run in right away and start with the construction. you have to go through lots of reviews, consul with historians, go through various commissions and approval processes and so we are in the midst, we're finalizing that right now.
we're hopeful in may of next year is when we get started with bricks and mortar construction. that will take about a is done. we have to put in new exhibits and new outdoor signage and things like that. when this is all said and done in another year or so, it is going to completely transform this place. >> you talked about one of the major tasks is going to be better interpreting the lives of the enslaved people who were very much a part of this history. what about the lee family itself? what point in time will you choose to tell their story? >> that's a great question. our enabling legislation actually directs that. that's one of the things when congress establishes national parks, when they established arlington house, they said it should be restored and interpreted the period just before or on the eve of the civil war. so this house will look like the paint colors, the rooms, the
objects in the rooms, will -- it will be that period really on the eve of lee's resignation. that will be the period the house will look like. but we have that difficult task of telling the story of what this place was like and people who lived here in some cases 60 years before that. >> we have moved a lot of it. thank you for letting us do that. there's a lot of furniture in the house. one of the neat things when you read about the history of this place is that a lot of the people who took objects from the house returned them to the national park service when you began to try to tell the story. can you talk about that? >> absolutely. many objects disappeared over time. keep in mind, so many of the objects in this house had their ties to mount vernon. that's where the washington treasury as we call it, the bed washington died on, very significant pieces, china from mount vernon, during the civil war, this area was occupied for the entire war essentially by union soldiers. for souvenirs, they took things. we have many instances in the years after the war and more
recently where people found in their family collections objects that were taken from arlington house or objects that maybe they had had -- we have examples of objects held by the families of the enslaved african-americans who were here who have -- we have been able to bring back to this place. that's one of the things we're excited about during this restoration project is having the funds to locate and potentially purchase some of the original objects and bring them back to this house. >> our phone lines are open. we will be here for half an hour more. we would like to hear questions or comments about the national park system, what your concerns are about how it does its job of interpreting our american story. or if you want to tell us a story about a park you visited, we will listen. there's a conversation going on facebook about your favorite park and why and/or what the park service might do to better
engage with the american public. to that end, i want to read this facebook posting. the young people of today want to touch, feel and interact with history. seeing doesn't satisfy their needs. do more interactive programs. >> we're going to do that. one of the things we're planning -- we can accomplish that in a few ways. we're going to be putting in somewhat we call tactile exhibits. these are places where people can touch either reproduction items or can see a sign and maybe feel a model of what the plantation looked like. we're even talking about putting a map on the ground here that will be a colorized map outside in the rear yard of what this plantation looked like. there will be opportunities for people to interact and to also be able to leave a little bit of them here. again, we want to facilitate that dialogue. we want people to come here and have the opportunity to maybe leave a little video of themselves or a note or something that talks about what this site means for them. another way that we're going to facilitate is through online exhibits, the ability to see
parts of arlington house that maybe you can't physically get to but you can use an ipad to zoom in on an object in a room. we can't have people touching some of these objects. but we can use ipads for people to hold on to and zoom in close to see details. >> beyond the work done here, ian says i would love virtual reality recordings that give a flavor of the attractions allowing millions of us that will never be able to visit them for various reasons. is the park service getting involved in allowing people to experience it virtually rather than going to parks? >> yes. but perhaps not to the scale that we all are seeking. and to use today's technology, particularly connecting with new audiences, particularly with our youth. we have the responsibility to maximize the use of technology.
one would not suggest, however, that we will not continue to encourage to the extent possible, all people visiting their national park nearby or at a distance, but to compensate for that virtual reality, the use of modern technology is a measure towards that end. >> i want to talk to you about private philanthropy. over the course of the history of the national parks, what has been the role of not just in this age but in earlier ages of private citizens and helping the mission of the national park service? >> it has been integral to the acquisition, development and operation of national parks. one would think initially about the rockefeller family making substantial donations of land
and grand teton national park, gray smoke and another park where i had the opportunity to work, virgin islands national park, a substantial contribution of land there. but in addition to that, here in the nation's capitol, the -- i think of two major example. the frederick douglass home. anacostia, washington, d.c., located on a 14 acre estate was entirely donated by an organization founded by his second wife. think about wolf trap farm park for the performing arts. the land and construction costs for lane center was donated in full. so there are many classic examples in which many of the parks that we enjoy today came to us from private individual or from organizations that had a civic approach to conservation and preservation. >> do you get checks from people who don't have a lot of means? small donations from people as well?
>> no question about that. i don't know what the dollar level is, but the federal government and the park service in particular is authorized to accept donations unilaterally. also, congress in 1967 established the national park foundation which is the arm of the national park service. it has raised and continues to raise substantial sums of dollars. i think the target during the centennial year is for foundation to raise from the private sector from individuals and various organizations i believe in the neighborhood of $350 million that will be used by the national park service for preservation, interpretation, education. donations, major gifts have been integral to the park system. i think that will continue.
>> a tweet, how do you balance access and protection? we said this is the most visited of the historic houses. when you think about redoing it and the numbers of people in this place, how do you balance those? >> it's really tough. we want people to see these places. 650,000 people a year, we can do a million. we know we have well over a million people walking around the grounds here. at the same time, this is a 200-year-old house. you really have to balance that. we're looking at bringing people into certain parts of the house that can handle more foot traffic. but then do special guided tours to certain areas or having virtual tours available for certain areas, because we really have an issue we call a caring capacity. that stands in historic homes but also for trails and places like that where it's an issue
across the park service. we don't want our parks to be loved to death. we want people to be able to come and enjoy them and not -- people need to be able to see the treasurers. >> how frequently do you have timed visitations? that's another way of controlling crowd access. >> that's correct. i think that's in place at the washington monument now. you are pre-ticketed for the washington monument. that was the case in terms of visitation to the white house. there are a number of parks that have a structured process of how to effectively and efficiently move people through that park. the interesting point i would like to make about visitation and about impact is that that there are many parks not widely known but yet they are a significant aspect of our heritage. it's incumbent upon the park service to make information available on the park and to encourage people to visit lesser known parks.
also if you have a park such as yellowstone -- everybody going to yellowstone wants to go to old faithful. notwithstanding yellowstone is 2.2 million acres and roughly 90% of that don't see many people. you try to encourage people, well, maybe not old faithful this year, why not this part of the park? it's an educational and encouragement process. >> next is leslie in california. >> caller: hi. i have a memory story for you. was the arlington house known as the lee mansion? i believe i was 9 and my family and i came from buffalo, new york, and saw washington and went to the lee mansion. and i believe -- i think i saw it as i'm sitting here watching the program -- there was a doll in a little girl's bedroom upstairs in the cradle. >> wow. what a good memory you have. my goodness. why did -- because you were
young that doll resonated with you? >> caller: i love dolls. my dad said i had a memory like an elephant. at almost 75, i still do. it was a wonderful memory. >> that's a terrific memory from long ago. >> those are accurate. she's referring to the girl's dressing room upstairs. >> the custis lee mansion was known as until it was changed after your visit to arlington house, the robert e. lee memorial. >> thank you for that call. >> next up is jean in wyoming. >> caller: hello. >> please go ahead. hello. >> we're listening. what's your question? >> caller: i have a couple of questions. the one question is, why do you
not -- why do you not advertise more often about your events and stuff coming along? >> okay. you have another question? >> caller: yes. the other question is, i am actually a volunteer from fort laramie. i was there -- >> you know what? we're getting feedback on your call. we will take your first one. why doesn't the park service advertise more frequently? >> hopefully, we're doing a better job of doing that. it's difficult for us to take out time on media to be able to put things out there. we do our best. we rely -- not exclusively but a lot on social media, try to get people to love the park -- a lot of the sites have facebook pages or twitter accounts. we do -- we work with our local
media. we certainly have, i would say, around the centennial, done a huge push both internally but through the park service to get the word out there. if you have access to the facebook, you can learn more about the park events there. if you go most -- almost all websites for national park services, they have news and events, you can click on a calendar and find out what's going on almost every weekend in that park. >> we would be remiss if we were not to commend c-span for its coverage of the national parks and the park service. smithsonian channel does the same thing, national geographic. it is providing content, if you will to the various media organizations and generally respond very favorably. >> on that note, barbara said, special affordable events would be a plus at the lodges.
some people are not as physically active for all of the wonderful outdoor adventures at the park. that's her idea how to make things better. have special affordable events at the lodges, because i can't get out and move around inside the park. >> when you say the lodges, the lodges within national parks? >> yes. >> i think there's a concern that we need to increase the needs of those who may have some limitations. i think you would find that if you stay at the lodge in the valley of yosemite or in glacier national park, they would visit those facilities and give talks if you will. there may be a campfire program in close proximity. in many instances, the lodges that by and large are operated
by concessioners under a contract with the national park service can provide transportation for the guests to an organized park program. but we realize that more has to be done to assure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the activities. >> on a related note, accessibility for people with disabilities. how do you -- that's much -- it's required by law. but it's also something we are all much more aware of as making sites more accessible. what are you doing here on that? >> that's one of the real tough things. that's one of the reasons we have to be so delicate in that planning process we go through and work with all the historic preservation groups out there, because we have to find a universally accessible way to get people in and out of the mansion and to have the same experience. so as part of this project, we're trying our best to put some ramping in that will -- there's steps to get up into the mansion. we're try doing that in a sensitive way. but we need to be able to do it to get people here. also around the site, people
need to be able to move around in wheelchairs and strollers and things. we will put in an accessible path so if someone is in a wheelchair, they will get to every place on the site, whether it's the slave quarters, the mansion, the museum building, pass through the gardens. those will be paths that are made to look like packed dirt. they have nice technology where we can do that. but it's actually an accessible hard surface that wheelchairs can go over. >> what do you do for other disabilities? >> i mentioned about the tactile exhibits. that's for people who perhaps are visually impaired. we will have a model of arlington house in bronze where they can feel the wings of the house, the chimney, those objects. we will have programs obviously in braille. we have programs for people who maybe can't go upstairs. they can sit here in the house and view a virtual tour. those types of objects. we will have pamphlets in many,
many different foreign languages as well. >> is this happening across all the parks? is this interpretation happening across all the parks? >> yes. if not, it should be. you would find that there is that level of sensitivity on the part of the park staff to reach out and to include individuals that may have some limitations. and many of the partners that operate within parks, a corporate association or a concessioner, they have that sense of obligation to provide those services. to all visitors. >> 100th anniversary of the national park service. we are talking about that while we are based here live at arlington house overlooking washington. if you get to d.c., come up here. it's going to be closed how long? >> it will be -- the grounds will be closed for about a year, perhaps certainly more than that. we invite people to come up. we have time left before we close the site. certainly, when we reopen, cop
and visit us. it's a fantastic place. >> it's the most spectacular view of washington, d.c. that you can find anywhere around here. please do put it on your list if you get here. next is pam in michigan. hi. you are on. >> caller: hi. i would just like to know that -- if it's true or not. i read mrs. lee did not come back in person to pay the taxes because her and mr. robert e. lee thought that she would have been arrested at that time. and my other question is, is the house haunted? thank you very much for taking my call. >> thank you very much. is the house haunted? >> is the house haunted? >> it's rather dark in here. >> ambience and whatnot. i can tell you, i personally have not had an experience here. but we do have staff who have relayed stories of things like footsteps upstairs when they turn out to be the only one in the house.
there are stories, not for me to say whether or not it's haunted. there's a number of folks who have had interesting experiences. >> you have an 1803 house with creaky floors. >> all by itself. she asked -- >> yeah. we discussed that earlier. that absolutely is true. when they -- that law was passed in 1862, the taxes were due. they had to be paid by the owner of the house who at that time was mary lee. she was not able to pay the taxes for fear of being captured. she tried to send a cousin here to pay the taxes. but they refused them because they to be paid in person. >> john white asked about twitter, dayton aviation park is spread over many individual locations in our urban area. is that multi-site park unique in the park service? are there other multi-site parks? >> there are a number of multi-site parks. many of the civil war sites have
different sites that depict what may have occurred in an individual battle. most parks are contiguous within a given boundary. but dayton park is not an exception to that. >> certainly, in urban areas, that's very common. i think of places like golden gate and even here, many of the parks here in washington, d.c. are -- there's pieces of the park nearly all over the place. >> that is correct. >> in a place like this, what percentage of your visitors are foreign? >> that's a great question. i don't have the exact statistic. i would say probably approaching almost a quarter of the visitors. most of our visitors are typical visitors who are here for arlington national cemetery. many don't expect to come here. they happen upon it. probably a little less than a
quarter. certainly, a sizable number. >> phillip is watching us in wisconsin as we talk about the park service on its anniversary. what's your question? >> caller: yes. i live in wisconsin. i do camping up here. it seems like they are closing campsites up here. the sites are deteriorating, like the picnic benches, there are chunks of wood missing out of them. what are you going do about this? >> deteriorating campsites. >> i don't know the particular circumstances of the given park. obviously, the superintendent of that given park would not be pleased that a facility is deteriorating. there could be a question of budget, could be a question of priorities. but that is not the acceptable standard for any park. but admittedly, there are some deteriorated facilities throughout the national park system. >> yes. certainly, verify it's a national -- a lot of folks
assume the national park service runs all campgrounds. so it could be -- it may or may not be park service. please get in touch with the superintendent, go to the contact page and let them know. >> next up is marilyn who is in south carolina. marilyn, what's on your mind tonight? >> caller: yes. incidentally, seven years ago today, edwood kennedy passed away. i have a question about president kennedy. when he was buried there in 1963, how did that influence the demand for burial there? >> that's a great question. incidentally, i was here when senator ted kennedy passed away. we overlooked that as he was buried alongside his brothers. >> let me in terms of jurisdiction, arlington memorial
service is not part of the national park service. >> right. it's the army that runs the cemetery. the national park service is, we are surrounded by the cemetery. the caller was correct, the demand for burials here in the cemetery increased after president kennedy was buried here in the point that after that time is when the cemetery had to start putting some restrictions or limitations on the qualifications for people to have for inground burials because it had a huge impact on the cemetery. and on the visitation of the cemetery and as well as arlington house. >> we have 12 more minutes left in our two-hour special on the 100th anniversary of the national park service. all day long on c-span3 we have been showing you different park service sites from all around the country. we hope you enjoyed it. that is on our video library. search and find locations that perhaps you have always been interested in visiting and learn more about that.
we have heard references to your career as we have been talking here. how did you get into this? >> i'm a product, if you will, of the leadership of president kennedy, vice-president johnson and my hero as a secretary of the interior, the late stewart lee udahl. second udahl coming into the office in the first few months of the kennedy administration, looked at the work force and did not see the face of america. that's my term in terms of not having the diversity in the staff. so he made a decision to recruit in places where the foreign interior had not recruited substantially at historically black colleges and universities. and i was fortunate to be recommended by the president of the college for this opportunity
to work as a seasonal ranger. it was in 1962. i had the great fortune of working as a seasonal ranger in grand teton the summer of '62 and '63 and became permanent in '66 and stepped down at the 15th director on january 19, 2001, concluding 35 years with the national park service. a rewarding career that exceeded all expectations. >> one of the most gorgeous places in the world, absolutely beautiful there. >> since i don't have responsible for all the parks, yes, you are right. >> all of you park service people are always so diplomatic when you ask for your favorite park. >> now that you're retired, you can tell us. did you get the bug when you were working there as a college student this is what i want to do?
>> no. i grew up in a different america. i grew up under the doctrine but separate but equal. there was not an encouragement for african-americans to go into nontraditional career opportunities. state and local parks were closed to me. restaurants and theaters were closed to me. so it was a new day. again, that was in leadership, the courageous leadership, of stewart udall, because many facilities surrounding parks were not open to me, but another courageous secretary under the roosevelt administration issued a proclamation, secretary proclamation in 1945 saying that all facilities within national parks would be available to all who would come, notwithstanding in communities you may not be able to go to a hotel or restaurant, but that was the leadership, fathered by the leadership of stewart lee udall.
>> brandon bies, we want to hear your story, but we want to take a couple calls first. which are the most significant national park service rights that tell the modern civil rights story? >> well, the martin luther king site in georgia, selma to montgomery, talking about the voting rights that led to president lyndon johnson signing that law, the voting rights law, in 1965. but one would have to go back earlier, and i think about port chicago and california, in which there was a major destruction of ships through bombs that exploded as they were being loaded and killed roughly 300 african-americans who were receiving treatment in terms of
training and work, what have you, and that triggered president truman ultimately to issue a presidential executive order, executive order, saying that we would no longer have a segregated military force. and you could go beyond that in terms of major protest for labor to argue for equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th amendment. but what one would argue that the seeking of full rights is a continuum in that every generation makes a little bit more progress towards that which we proclaimed in our constitution towards a more perfect union. but i grew up in the so-called modern civil rights movement, so
the student protests, of which i was a part of in the '50s and the '60s, i can remember, but i also remember the supreme court decision in 1954, because all of my public school, segregated school, in which they declared in the field of public education, the doctrine of separate but equal has no place. so i've seen that in my lifetime, but yet there's much more to be done. >> we have about seven minutes left on this centennial national park service. next up is a phone call from robert in waterville, new york. hi, robert. >> caller: hello. director stanton, former director stanton, this question's probably for you. within the national parks, particularly yosemite, some of the colorado parks, what's the national park service doing about purchasing the inholdings that commercial developers are trying to purchase and develop into resorts, things like that? the water conservation fund was one funding source. what's the status of that whole system? >> an excellent question. the land and water conservation fund provides revenues for
acquisition not only by, as you well know, by the federal government, but also by state government and also land and water conservation funds are available to tribal governments and a government-to-government relationship. i know personally that there are many inholders throughout the national parks system. something i personally experienced when i was in the virgin island national park. the dollars that are available are not adequate to meet the acquisition of all the so-called inholder. progress is being made. there are some private individuals, some corporations, that are requiring of many of these inholders and then donating free of charge to the government to include areas of that given park, but it is a critical -- it is a critical set of circumstances, because some of the private properties within parks are development we would perhaps judge not being compatible with other
preservation objectives of a given park. so you're right on target of raising that as a major challenge. >> well, on facebook jim asks, is there a satisfactory level of cooperation between the national park service and the various state parks and the many county and local parks nationally? >> the national park service, and i would say this with all humility and gratitude, has an excellent relationship with the state parks. the state parks have a national sensation of state park directors, and there are frequent meetings between members of the organization and their counterparts in the national park service. and similarly with local and municipal parks that have outstanding programs, and they work with the national park service and with their national association. i might add that the park service has a specific function
that allows park service employees to provide technical assistance within the resources they have available to state and to local parks in terms of interpretation, in terms of planning, resource preservation, so is the shared experience and it's a shared opportunity between all the organizations, every spectrum of the government level, to cooperate and collaborate towards achieving effective and efficient stewardship. >> brandon bies, how did you get into this line of work? >> sure, so i started my parks service career, actually i started with an interest in history, american history, military history, and also in archaeology, so i began as an archaeologist for the national park service. i was very fortunate to do work as an archaeologist at a number of civil war battlefields, petersburg, spent a number of years working at other places, and i was then able to get a permanent position as a cultural
research specialist doing preservation work for the national park service here in the washington, d.c., area, did that for several years, and then ventured a little bit into park management. had a nice chance to work at great falls park just here north of town, and then served four years as the manager here at arlington house. and we'll see where we go from there. >> where did you go to school? >> i went to my undergraduate at university of delaware and got degrees in american history and anthropology, then my master's in applied anthropology from the university of maryland. >> director stanton, we've talked about a lot of the challenges for the next hundred years for the national park service throughout our program. one is young people who are digitally oriented, getting them to come, others always going to be funding. one of the ones always cited is the whole climate change issue and its impact on the parks. how serious is that for the lands that you're -- and the sites that you're trying to preserve, and what is the parks service doing to remedy it? >> yes.
i've been away from the parks service 16 years, so i'm not fully abreast with what is being done in terms of adapting to climate change or any of the mitigating measures that the individual parks or the leadership of the parks service may be undertaking, but i am abreast of some of the news accounts of the deterioration of some of the glaciers, if you will, in alaska and some have speculated there may not really be a glacier national park in northern montana, just in terms of the melting. and i think that many of the seashore parks, and there are a large number of seashore parks that are beginning to recognize a change in the level of the sea in terms of beach erosion, may be the impact on cultural resources, may be in proximity to the shoreline.
so i do know there are a number of measures that are being taken not only by the national park service, but by fish and wildlife service, u.s. forest service, land management, and i will expect some comparable measures are being taken at the state level. but the scientists continue to advise us that things are changing, and it's a question of how can we adapt to those changes, plus how can we reduce our impact on carbon emissions as the -- as being rolled out. >> we're going to take a final phone call from stephanie all the way in hawaii. hi, stephanie, you're our last caller tonight. what's on your mind? >> caller: yes, hi, thank you for taking my call and happy birthday to the parks service. >> thank you very much. >> caller: i'm really proud to
be an american for that reason. there is a national monument that has a long hawaiian name, i'm afraid i can't pronounce it. they are talking about expanding area, i wondered if anybody knew where that stood. and thank you for taking my call. >> i'm not familiar with, you know, any proposal, as i said before, i've been sort of out of the loop, as it were, but, obviously, as mentioned earlier, all parks have a website and they'd more than welcome an inquiry from you in terms of what their acquisition needs or their interests might be. and i'm positive that you will get a response in a timely fashion. >> a special program tonight on the anniversary of the parks service, produced by american history tv, part of the c-span family of television content. and we're delighted to introduce you to what we do here at american history tv. you can find us all weekend,
every weekend, with visits to historic sites, lectures in history, tours of battlefields, all first-person history and nothing else really quite like it on television. we hope if you like it tonight you'll find american history tv on c-span3 on the weekends and also on the web. as we close out here tonight, i really want to thank your colleagues here at arlington house for the hospitality in allowing us to bring this equipment in and move the furniture around. what's the closing thought you want to leave people with about the role of the parks service, this is for both of you, in american life? >> we may be here for a few more hours just to talk about that. but the parks are special places. they are places not only to enjoy in terms of play, but also places in which we can learn. we can develop a greater respect for ourselves, for our neighbors, our friends, and a respect for the other species that inhabit this fragile place
that we call earth. so parks are contributed to us becoming better people and a more united nation. >> and i'm not nearly as eloquent as mr. stanton, but i would say something we talk time and time again about these days is relevance, and for the parks service to survive another century, we need to be relevant >> make that connection. >> make a connection to people to come and visit. please, come and visit your national parks and tell us how we can be relevant to you. if there are stories you think we're not telling, tell us about it and get involved, volunteer and make the parks relevant to your life, continue the dialogue about what it's like to be an american and these american stories and that will guarantee we're around for another hundred years. >> you have a final thought? >> in closing, i want to salute you and c-span and the listening audience that's participated and your outstanding staff and i would only salute you in the
words of our first director, steven mather, who observed she's a better citizen with a keener appreciation of the privilege of living here in the united states, who has toured the national parks. we become better citizens. >> well, thanks to both of you for giving us your time tonight. thank you for you in the audience for watching, your questions, and as i mentioned the conversation continues on facebook. if you'd like to talk to others who enjoy and officiate the national park service, and happy centennial to the national park service. a reminder that this program will air tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern time once again in its entirety, and right after we're finished here, you're going to see a full tour of arlington house just as if you were here yourselves. thanks for being with us. each week american artifacts