One little known fact about Woody Guthrie’s iconic song is that the earliest known recording from 1944 includes the following verse:
There was a big high wall there, that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing;
This land was made for you and me.
This verse was stripped from the song and largely forgotten until 1997, when an archivist at the Smithsonian heard a master version as it was being transferred to a digital recording for preservation in the National Archives.
This summer, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Parks Service, we must not take our public lands for granted. There are those who would turn these magnificent places over to private interests to exploit the land for its resources or develop and wall off areas for the benefit of a few. We should take note of the nearly forgotten verse from Guthrie’s song and heed its warning.
From EARTHJUSTICE: Leaders in Washington, D.C., largely dismissed the militants involved in the standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as law-breaking fringe elements. But at the same time, some in Congress were quietly working up legislation that would indeed sell America’s birthright to the highest bidder.