Standing here in this valley brings me much closer to this person whom I only know by name. Geronimo was the word I shouted as I jumped off the diving board into the deep end of a swimming pool as a boy growing up. I had no idea the caliber of the man that this name invoked.
While nothing can excuse death and violence, one must appreciate the reasons for Geronimo's actions. They are symbolic of so much of what is wrong with the history of our country. The persecution of minorities. The rape the land. The reckless consumption of natural resources. The destruction of cultures.
Today's hiking journey will take us 5 miles into the vast Gila Wilderness. This is the first federal wilderness established in the history of the world, in 1924, due in large measure to the efforts of the naturalist Aldo Leopold who's namesake wilderness lies just to the east of us. Both of these wilderness areas were incorporated into the federal Wilderness Act when it was established in 1964, over 50 years ago.
As Camille and I hike through this land today, the spirit of the ancient people will be with us. Our thoughts will be focused on how we can serve this land that has been so carefully protected. By this we honor the legacy and the memory of the Mogollon, Apache, and countless other peoples that went before... and will come after.