The San Juan Islands National Monument, among the newest of the nation’s more than one hundred national monuments, will be celebrated Monday morning with a gathering of dignitaries at the Anacortes Senior Center.
The notables include Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Principal Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management Neil Kornze and Rep. Rick Larsen, from Washington 2nd District. As noted in a Times editorial Saturday, these members of the Washington congressional delegation, and Rep. Suzan DelBene, worked with the local community to make the national monument designation a reality.
President Obama’s signature last week on the executive order creating the San Juan Islands National Monument put another name on the state’s honor roll.
The Mount St. Helens National Monument was signed into law by President Reagan in 1982, two years after the mountain erupted. The site was dedicated to research, recreation and education, with the intent of letting the mountain “respond naturally to the disturbance.
The Hanford Reach National Monument represents the last free-flowing section of the Columbia River. The river’s peaceful environs and dramatic plateau were protected by ironic default. They were the security buffer surrounding the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, which helped develop the nation’s nuclear arsenal. President Clinton gave the area monument status in 2000.
Washington has another site that speaks to the range of natural, cultural and historical settings preserved for future generations. The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial is a satellite location of the Minidoka National Historic Site, a relocation center from World War II. The Japanese community on Bainbridge was the first singled out for movement to the Idaho internment camp.
The first national monument in the United States was Devils Tower in Wyoming, which received that distinction from President Theodore Roosevelt. The designation would eventually be applied to a burial ground for free and enslaved Africans in New York, a Spanish fort in Miami and caves on the Oregon coast.
The San Juan Islands join a special roster, but as legions of past and future visitors will attest their inclusion is wholly understandable, and commendable.