Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center Rededication
March 12, 2004
Good afternoon. I’m honored to join you for this rededication of the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.
Looking around, I can’t help but think about that damp day in bleak November of 1805 when, camped not far from here, a disheartened and drenched William Clark wrote, “Oh! How Horrible is the Day!” I’m sure he would have deeply appreciated this beautifully renovated facility—especially the roof overhead!
The Lewis and Clark Expedition—the Corps of Discovery—is one of the most profoundly important and inspiring chapters in American and Washington state history. Two hundred years later, it’s easy to take the magnitude of their accomplishment for granted.
Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, kids like me were mesmerized by visions of astronauts flying high above the Earth, into outer space. Even landing on the moon! Through Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, we saw our wildest dreams quite literally come true.
But long before those giant leaps, there was Lewis and Clark. Their exploration of a wild continent was in its time as challenging, daring and dangerous as modern space exploration.
They were American archetypes for all who push the envelope—intrepid explorers of the vast unknown. Trailblazers lighting the way into America’s future.
Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery defined what became a uniquely American ethos: The rugged individual in search of new frontiers. The independent and fearless pioneer, braving uncharted territory. Self-reliant and persevering. Qualities as vital to modern society as they were to a band of hearty souls making their way across the wilds of America.
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were relatively unheralded in their own day. But today we know them as heroes. And it is in knowing our heroes that we embrace shared values and a common heritage. Their struggles and triumphs, the details of their journey—these are the things that help us understand the irrepressable spirit that drove them. Understanding that spirit inspires us, and fuels our own aspirations.
This Center offers us that understanding and inspiration. Visitors here will leave knowing more about Lewis and Clark and their amazing expedition. And they will better understand the spirit of discovery that brought these trailblazers across the country to our coast.
This is also where there will be one of five Maya Lin designed monuments commemorating Lewis and Clark’s journey. At my request, last year’s Legislature gave $3 million, and this year I made an additional request for $2 million for this project.
We must continue to create such opportunities for understanding, and continue to preserve our natural and historical heritage. Our state parks are our treasures.
The year 2013 will mark the Centennial of Washington state parks. Today I will be signing Senate Bill 6372, which creates the Washington State Parks Centennial Advisory Committee. This committee will guide planning for the 2013 Centennial. But more importantly, it will support the Parks Commission’s efforts to complete an ambitious Centennial Plan for the next 100 years.
I want to thank everyone whose hard work we celebrate today. And I hope you’ll all join me in supporting our work on the State Parks 2013 Centennial Plan. Together, let’s ensure that our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy tomorrow the same inspiring experiences we share today.