Located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is the most remote unit of the National Park System and the U.S. National Park south of the Equator. The Park spreads across three islands, 9,500 acres of tropical rainforest, and 4,000 acres of ocean, including coral reefs. While remote, the islands of American Samoa, true to the meaning of the word Samoa (Islands of Sacred Earth), are welcoming and offer beautiful landscapes and centuries of culture and history.
Seasoned backpacker and adventurer Yang Lu earned the grand prize in the 2015 Share the Experience photo contest with this image of a sunburst captured at sunrise in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah. Yang has made the outdoors part of his daily life and finds deep connection to the land through his lens.
“My photography is not just for recreation, it is to inspire people to explore these areas." -- Yang Lu
Photo by Yang Lu (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
My thoughts continue to be with all of you as this government shutdown persists. I know and appreciate that you want to be at work serving the American people in the myriad ways that Interior contributes to our country–some very visible and others behind the scenes. Last week, one of our colleagues sent me this quote from President John F. Kennedy that reflects exactly what I have felt from interacting with so many of you during the 6 months I have joined the ranks of public service:
"Let the public service be a proud and lively career. And let every man and woman who works in any area of our national government, in any branch, at any level, be able to say with pride and with honor in future years: 'I served the United States Government in that hour of our nation's need.”-- John F. Kennedy, 1961.
If there is to be a "silver lining" to this cloud of a government shutdown, it is the increased awareness of the American people to the importance of the work you do and the value that all Americans receive from their investment in you.
I profoundly hope that we will be welcoming all of you back to work soon, and that the damage done during this shutdown period can be addressed in the coming months. Please know that the President is intent on getting the government back up and running, and all of you back to work serving the American people. In the meantime, we will continue to update www.doi.gov/shutdown with information that you may find useful.