I attended the moving memorial for Margaret Anderson, the Mount Rainier National Park ranger who was slain on New Year’s Day. As a professor at Pacific Lutheran University and a daughter of a retired law enforcement park ranger, I find myself reflecting on their noble profession and how it affects us all.
At the memorial, leaders offered remembrances of a woman whose passion was to care for nature and keep it safe for us and for generations to come. Many people do not realize how dangerous the job of a park ranger can be.
I remember nights wondering about my father’s search-and-rescue operations, extreme weather or conflicts between park visitors. It makes me proud of our National Park Service and our nation’s unique and radical idea to preserve and protect the Earth’s last great treasure: our wilderness.
It was fitting that the service was held in an academic setting, because imagine how many of us discovered a love for learning and exploring nature while visiting a national park? I found my love for astronomy while gazing at velvet-black night skies in those remote wilderness areas, a love that would lead me to my career.
The National Park Service honors PLU by holding Anderson’s memorial here. We Pacific Northwesterners notice the work they do, and we thank them for their service.
(Hay teaches physics at PLU.)