Our Commonwealth stretches from the salty spray of the Atlantic Ocean to the cooling breezes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Almost 500 miles from East to West of remarkably diverse habitat that features marshes, fields, rivers, mountains, and forests. We have uplands, lowlands, wetlands, and farmlands. From almost 6,000 feet at Mount Rogers to sea level at Kiptopeke, Virginia has something for everyone.
And do you want to know the best part? You own it.
Sure, you think. Tell that to the neighbor who keeps grousing about your dog. Tell that to the farmer who won’t let you have at his apple tree. Tell it to the guy who just towed your improperly parked car.
You’re missing the bigger picture with that sort of attitude. Every time that you step outside, or wipe the Virginia pollen from your windshield, or look into the sky to determine the weather, you’re experiencing the joy of ownership.
In some cases, you kind of DO own Virginia. When Governor George Peery dedicated Hungry Mother State Park to initiate our statewide system of parks, he said,
“State parks are for all the people, and not only will they afford recreation for our own people but will bring tourists from other states … I believe these parks will contribute greatly to the national good as we go forward to the splendid destiny that awaits in the future.”
When President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated Shenandoah National Park, he said,
“In bygone years we have seen the terrible tragedy of the age-the tragedy of waste.”
Those words are still appropriate today. He went on to say of the people destined to visit,
“Once more they will lay hold of the perspective that comes to men and women who every morning and every night can lift up their eyes to Mother Nature.”
We’re kind of fond of F.D.R. for that.
If Virginia were a car, you would change the oil, rotate the tires, and give it the occasional bath. If our state were a home, you’d give it a fresh coat of paint, fix some leaky faucets, and plant some flowers around the mailbox. If the Commonwealth were a dog, you would be inclined to feed it, rub it behind the ears, and take it for a walk.
And it isn’t just the cool things like our National and State Parks. It might be that grassy median strip. It might be the stream behind your neighborhood. It might be the sidewalk in front of your office. It might be your own front yard.