Posts Tagged ‘Mount Rainier’

Not What They Signed Up For

[Note: some of the links connect to some sad & disturbing stories. No graphic visuals.]

This weekend’s shooting of a national park ranger by a deeply troubled Iraq War veteran is an incredibly sad, incredibly tragic affair. The news stories surrounding this event are piling up, and I suspect there are depths to this tragedy that have yet to be revealed.

There are (currently) two levels to this story.

First, there is the infinite sadness around the death of Margaret Anderson. Here was a woman, a mother of two, who signed up for the NPS because she enjoyed nature, or perhaps she liked people, or perhaps she wanted to raise her family in a peaceful small town. I don’t know for sure, I’m sure her family will be speaking up soon.

There’s one assumption I’m 100% certain is true: she didn’t sign up for law enforcement, or to put herself between a gunman and a crowded visitors center.

One of the rarely-told stories is how dangerous, and how off-job-description, the job of National Park Service Ranger really is. It’s not all nature hikes and counting bison. Besides regular criminal activity, they have to deal with well-armed marijuana growers, well-armed drug smugglers and immigrant traffickers, serial killers, and even terrorism. I wish people would really remember that when they visit our National Parks.

The other highly disturbing portion of this story is around the killer, the man who ended up freezing to death in a drainage ditch. Here’s an Iraq war veteran who I am 100% certain that, although a willing volunteer, didn’t sign up for mind-altering post-traumatic stress disorder nor for treatment at a base that apparently is not doing that good of a job helping veterans (“support our troops”, indeed). I suspect the continuing tragedy of the Iraq war will continue long after 12/15/2011.

If this story has saddened and/or disgusted you so far, be prepared to feel more so as more details of this story come out. There’s an awful lot more to the story, I’ll wager.

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