I have been asked several times why I decided to write about my experiences as a National Park Ranger. There are several reasons, but they all run full circle back to family.
If you read any biography of a famous or even not so famous person they rely heavily on the written work found in journals diaries and letters. During my lifetime these writing skill have been de-emphasized and have all but disappeared. Letters have been replaced with telephone calls, text messages, emails, twitters, and Facebook. There will be no written documented reference for future generations to know what we have done with our lives.
The above photos are an example from my family of a man I only knew as an infirm elderly gentleman that we visited several times a year. Now that I have completed my own career as a National Park Ranger I wonder if his life and accomplishments may have affected my life choices. But I know relatively little of him.
He was Thomas O'Beirne, my great grandfather on my mother's side of the family. The top photos shows Thomas as a young fireman during a 1901 Fireman's Parade in White Plaines, NY. The second photo is of Thomas as a White Plaines, NY police officer. He served with the police department between 1910 and 1922. I know know nothing else of his experiences in these jobs. Is it only coincidence that I became a park ranger? A career choice that includes both fire fighting and law enforcement. I do not know the answer to that question and will never be able to explore its possibilities since there is no written record of his work.
The final photo is of my great grandfather as I remember him. This was in 1963 when he dressed up to be photographed with my brother Brad and I.
This loss of family insights from both my mother and father's families were a major part of the inspiration that made me want to write. I know there are park rangers out there that have bigger and more spectacular stories to tell, but I wanted my son and his future children to have some idea of what I did with my life. I believe that every life no matter how ordinary has a story to tell.
These are the foundations of why I began to write down stories and eventually shared a few with friends and family. It is they who encouraged me to put my scribblings together into a book. The result of this labor is A Park Ranger's Life: Thirty Two Years Protecting Our National Parks.