After a relaxing drive through the Black Hills, we arrived at Mt. Rushmore. Here we spent a little time walking the grounds and viewing this amazing masterpiece of American ingenuity. We spent some time enjoying the museum and taking in some of the amazing architectural and sculpting techniques presented there. We had arrived early, so we waited till 8pm, when the lighting and dedication ceremony was to begin.

Promptly at 8pm, the lights on the outdoor amphitheatre began to brighten. A lady walked out onto the stage and welcomed the crowd. She introduced herself as Ranger Steph. She followed by separating the crowd into three groups, then had a small competition where we’d attempt to answer a short trivia on our founding fathers and the four presidents seen on the mountain ridge. Afterwards, she spoke for fifteen minuets and enlightened us with much fun yet interesting information. Once complete with her presentation a short film of the Mt. Rushmore history was played on the big-screen.

As the film began to come to an end, a patriotic tune began to play as slowly the lights rose to the hillside and began to illuminate these massive sculptures. Ranger Steph, returned to the stage and began by asking the attending veterans in the crowd to please come to the stage for the lowing of the flag and our national anthem. A group of veterans from Florida began lowering the flag as the rest proudly saluted. After the flag was lowered and carefully folded into the traditional triangle shape, it was presented to the Ranger. She accepted the flag with thanks and a salute in return. Gratitude was spoken to all attendees of the ceremony and the visiting veterans. For a short time people took photographs with the ranger and children were allowed to carefully touch the flag.

Once some of the crowd dissipated, I began to introduce Drake and myself. She was excited to have her photograph taken and said, with a smile: “anything to promote the Park Rangers.” We invited her to join us at the top of the amphitheater once she had locked up the stage and returned the microphone. When she asked whether to bring the flag, I found it most important she did.

Stephanie Acheson, born and raised in Virginia. She has always been a history buff and believes that without our history, we wouldn’t have the present or the future. It is all shaped by things that have already come to pass. Stephanie has been a Park Ranger since 1998 and has worked in many different parks around the country. Her deep understand of our Nation’s history and soul is what brought her to Mt. Rushmore, a little over a year ago. She loves working as a Ranger and enjoys passing on our County’s legacy to the visitors that fill the theater.

The winters here can be pretty fridge’d. When asked how she liked living there year-round she answered by just saying: “well, when it begins to rain baseball sized hail…” Other than that, Stephanie loves the people who live there and finds the quality of the State Parks to be generally better as you venture west. She was a fun girl who liked to joke a bit here and there. We had a good time talking and setting up this picture with her.


Stephanie, Drake and I posing in front of Mt. Rushmore holding the folded American Flag after the lighting ceremony.

–> click image to view larger!