Yesterday Ryan and I went to Independence National Historical Site. (Because visiting NPS units is what we do. We are one hot couple.) I was impressed by a lot of things there. I was impressed by how small the Assembly Room, where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and signed, is. It brought those events to a human scale for me; I could picture where the delegates sat and imagine the stifling summer heat and the way things might have smelled in the late 1700s. I was impressed by the number of foreign visitors coming to see a historic, political park and learn about the birth of our nation. (NPS interpretation FTW!) I was impressed by the sheer variety of ways people take pictures now; at one point I observed various members of the crowd photographing the Liberty Bell using an SLR camera, various cell phones, a small digital camera, and an iPad. I wonder what Ben Franklin would have made of those gadgets.
Most of all, I was impressed by our tour guide, Joan. Joan is a VIP, which in NPS parlance means Volunteer-In-Parks. She is clearly passionate about her service, and was one of the most lively and engaging interpreters I’ve ever seen. She brought humor and personality to history. We asked a question while waiting for the group to transition from the courtroom to the assembly room, and Ryan noticed Joan’s 2500 hour pin. That’s right, she’s given more than 2500 volunteer hours to NPS and the American people. I’d venture to guess she’s given far more than that. Way to go, Joan! Thank you for the good you do!