Director Chuck Sams receives a tour of USS CONSTITUTION from Commander BJ Farrell. Photo by Matt Teuten. Courtesy NPS/National Parks of Boston.
In celebration of National Park Week, National Park Service Director Chuck Sams made his first official visit to the National Parks of Boston from April 25-26. Earlier in the week, he toured additional national parks in the greater Boston area, including Cape Cod National Seashore, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, and Minute Man National Historical Park.
“It was truly inspiring to visit national parks in and around Boston and meet with park staff, partners and community leaders,” said Director Sams. “I saw and heard firsthand how Boston’s rich history is told through diverse voices and with a commitment to sharing the full story of our nation’s evolution.”
National Park Service Northeast Regional Director Gay Vietzke and National Parks of Boston Superintendent Michael Creasey accompanied Director Sams during his time in Boston.
“It was an honor to host Director Sams at the National Parks of Boston during National Park Week,” said Superintendent Creasey. “The experiences that were shared with the Director gave him a good perspective of Boston, the parks, and how we work in partnership with hundreds of partners to steward these significant landscapes.”
Sams participated in the keynote panel, Indigenous Knowledge Fireside Chat, at the 2023 Stone Living Lab Conference: Nature-Based Coastal Resilience in Urban Settings at UMass Boston. He joined panelist Elizabeth Solomon of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag and moderator Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space at the City of Boston.
Sams also met with Trails to Freedom partners at Old State House and members of the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership on a boat tour of the islands. He heard about the history of the islands; current efforts to maintain and preserve the islands and harbor; innovative programming that welcomes all communities to the park; and ongoing efforts to create a climate resilient future for the islands, harbor, and shoreline. He shared information about the updated National Park Service Green Parks Plan that sets refreshed goals and objectives to advance sustainable park operations.
Throughout the multi-day visit, Sams expressed gratitude for partner and community support in preserving historic sites and efforts to increase access, diversity, inclusion and representation. He highlighted the importance of including all voices and perspectives in the telling of the American story, especially in preparation for the 250th anniversary of the nation’s founding.
While at Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Robert Gould Shaw Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial on the Boston Common, Sams congratulated the Partnership to Renew the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial and the Public Dialogue on Race on their recently completed $3 million restoration project. The project has served as a catalyst for community conversations on the important role sites of remembrance play in national identity and public life, and the meaningful role each person can play in shaping a just and racially equitable path forward.
Sams and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur M. Jaddou delivered remarks and welcomed 342 new American citizens during a special National Park Week naturalization ceremony at Faneuil Hall. Sams invited all to explore their national parks and use them as sources of inspiration, recreation and education.
At the Charlestown Navy Yard, Sams went to the site of a proposed approximately $81 million Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund infrastructure project to rehabilitate Building 107 for adaptive reuse. The project would remove and replace the interior walls, windows, and building systems. At the USS Constitution Museum, he saw highlights from the Museum’s collection and was briefed on the vision for a new Museum and Gateway Center.
Sams, a U.S. Navy veteran, then toured USS Cassin Young and USS Constitution. On Cassin Young, he met with park rangers, staff, and volunteers and learned about their work interpreting and restoring the ship. His grandfather, Charles Sams I, served on the destroyer USS Converse during World War II. Converse was activated in Boston in 1942. Both USS Cassin Young and USS Converse participated in the Leyte Operation, Luzon Operation, and the Okinawa Campaign.
The Commanding Officer of USS Constitution, Billie J. Farrell, then welcomed Director Sams onboard “Old Ironsides.” As he toured the ship, Sams presented crew members with America the Beautiful Military Passes that provide free access to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks, for military members and veterans in gratitude for their service.
About the National Parks of Boston
The National Parks of Boston is a collection of three National Park Service sites – Boston National Historical Park, Boston African American National Historic Site, and Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park. Established by individual legislation and for designated purposes, the three units have come together under a unified organizational umbrella to collaborate in ways that celebrate our cultural heritage, reconnect people to history and nature, and provide outdoor recreation opportunities on land and on the water. For more information, visit: www.nps.gov/bost, www.nps.gov/boaf, and www.bostonharborislands.org.
About the National Park Service
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 424 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.