We started in Waterton, Canada and ended up in Glacier Park, Montana. My family and I walked the Peace Trail, a day hike through Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. 2 countries, 9 miles, with 25 pounds on my back (that’s far more weight than needed, but I was practicing for a September backpacking trip).
The US and Canada share this park. The governments of both countries sanctioned this park in 1932 as a symbol of peace and friendship. Today, the US and Canada have the longest unarmed border in the world: 5,525 miles. Both pitch in to maintain and preserve this vast expanse of pristine wilderness.
There are no suspicious customs agents at the border. No attack dogs, no assault rifles, no barbed wire. You clear customs before starting the hike, but once you reach the 49th parallel, you simply step across. This border conveys trust and respect. This is how all modern, democratic nations should treat their neighbors.
Every tree, river, rock, and stream in the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park stands in silent protest against xenophobia. The park says, “We trust you to honor this land as you do your own.” What a sharp contrast with our Southern border! Where we build walls and detain children and shoot down innocent people fleeing desperate violence.
When the legislators of 1932 created this park, they vowed to protect a natural treasure and uphold peace and trust. When Donald Trump chants “Build a Wall,” he incites racism and mistrust.
John Muir called this park
the best care killing scenery on the planet.
But it’s more than that. It is a victory for American foreign policy, environmentalism, and world peace. Today’s government would never endorse an “International Peace Park.” But we, the future activists and legislators and artists and writers, have a model to strive towards.