March 29, 2010

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. 1 Peter 1:3, 4

Platt National Park—ever hear of it?

I didn’t think so. It was, as Bob Janiskee writes in an article at National Parks Traveler, a “70-year old mistake…the only National Recreation Area in the National Park System that was once designated as a National Park.”

Orville Hitchcock Platt was a U.S. Senator from Connecticut actively involved in American Indian affairs. He sponsored the 1902 legislation that established the Sulphur Springs Reservation, a 640-acre parcel in Oklahoma that the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians had sold to the federal government in order to protect its mineral springs from development. After Platt died in 1905, his fellow legislators decided to honor his contributions to the country by promoting Sulphur Springs Reservation to Platt National Park.

The problem was, as nice as it was, this place just didn’t have any of the attributes that signified a national park. It couldn’t even come close to being in the same league as the existing national parks at the turn of the century—Yosemite, Yellowstone, Mount Rainier and Crater Lake. It attracted little attention in its first 25 years of existence. During the ‘30s, the Civilian Conservation Corps planted trees, constructed waterfalls, ponds, campgrounds, and picnic areas, and other Roosevelt-era agencies improved the roads. The improvements drew more visitors, but still, Platt remained, as Janiskee puts it, “unworthy of national park status.”

Finally, in 1976, Congress redesignated the park and folded it into the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. So as not to denigrate the park’s namesake, the legislation also provided for some kind of commemoration of the late Senator Platt. And indeed, there is a plaque about him installed on the premises.

Perhaps this whole episode can be chalked up to an impulsive and rash (but good-intentioned) decision by Congress. It certainly wouldn’t be the last!

Good thing Orville Platt wasn’t around to see the day he was “demoted.” How embarrassing would that be?! That’s why I’d never want anyone to name anything after me (like that’s ever going to happen…)

The one honor I will take, though, is the exciting and glorious reward the apostle Peter reassures me is waiting in heaven. Jesus promises that the name of everyone who believes in Him is already written down there in the “book of life”—not in erasable pencil, but in permanent ink (Luke 10:20, Revelation 3:5).

I’m so glad that, thanks to Jesus’ death and resurrection, I not only have a great future ahead of me, I have the distinction of being His child right here and now (John 1:12).

I hope you too have that confidence this Easter. ‘Cause aint nuthin’ or nobody can take it away from us!

One comment

Leave a Reply