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Time for Kids: A National Park for Delaware?

Senator Tom Carper of Delaware is leading the push for the first national park for the First State

May 23 2011

Delaware is called the First State because it was the first to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Its award-winning beaches attract many visitors each year. But the First State is missing one thing that every other state in America has: a national park.  

"There is a lot to be showcased, a lot to be proud of in our history," Delaware Senator Tom Carper told TFK.  

Carper is leading the push for Delaware's first national park. He introduced the First State National Historical Park Act of 2011 to a Senate committee earlier this year. Committee members will discuss and then vote on the bill. If they approve it, the bill will then be sent to both houses of Congress. If Congress approves the bill, the President can either sign the bill into law or veto the bill.  

Filmmaker Ken Burns, a Delaware native, joined Carper at a recent press conference to promote the park proposal. The conference was held in the Old New Castle Courthouse, in New Castle, Delaware. The courthouse, which sits at the center of this quaint colonial city, may serve as park headquarters. "The National Parks bind us together as a nation," says Burns, creator of such celebrated documentaries as The Civil War and The National Parks: America's Best Idea.  

Honoring Delaware's History  

The proposed national park will not be a natural park, but a historical one. It will celebrate Delaware's role in the founding of our nation. One of the sites that will be a part of Delaware's first national park is the Ryves Holt House, which was built in 1665 and is one of the oldest buildings in the nation. Another site that will be included in the park is the John Dickinson Plantation, in Dover, Delaware. It is the boyhood home of the American revolutionary leader John Dickinson.  

These sites will be, says Burns, like "jewels strung along a necklace, that will permit us to revisit in time and in space our complicated history."  

In tough economic times, people may ask why the government should spend any money at all on a national park. Carper argues that the park would bring in millions of dollars in tourism. He also promises to find ways to offset the cost of setting up the park.  

As tourists from around the country visit Delaware's first national park, they will discover the First State's rich historical and cultural heritage, and never again ask, "Dela-where?"