Tuesday, January 22, 2008

120 Years of National Geographic

Today marks the 120 anniversary of National Geographic. For those over the age of 35 long before cable National Geographic was the way we saw the world. Its images were the seeds of many dreams of all the exotic places I would travel each night. The color and sharp images were a staple of NatGeo. The NGS's historical mission is "to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world's cultural, historical, and natural resources. Alexander Graham Bell was a early president of NatGeo. It was formed by scientist and educators to bring together a educational tool that has vastly surpassed even there expectations. The school library had several copies and I was always there to take home a copy. The Egyptian Pharaoh’s was one of the 1st articles that I had read. The images of Egypt had such profound impact on me. The stories and pictures were so life like that when you opened each page you could almost feel the desert air. I had seen the exposé on King Tut
although it would be another 20 years latter before I would see the exhibit. I looked with amazement as I turned each pay. The photography was like you were looking through the camera’s lens.
A social consciousness was the breeding ground within the pages of NatGeo. During Vietnam all the news was what was written in the papers or local TV. National Geographic showed the images of the people and the devastation to the country. It never took a written stance on the war just the pictures stood for them selves.

Culture was the heart of National Geographic. Every month they would profile a new culture with the faces of the indigenous people to each land. The feathers and paint of the Aztec warriors. The body Piercing of the woman of the Congo. The exotic furs of the Eskimos. As each month passed you were exposed to a new way of life and how they lived and they eyes of each person could unveil the story of their ancestors.

Conservation was at the forefront of their premise. I could never forget the wild life covered in oil after the Valdez oil spill. The pictures were able to capture the effects of pollution like I have never seen. The haunting cruelty as you could see just how damaging was its effects were.

The castles of Ireland, the Taj Mahl, Pyramids of South America, to the Coliseum of Rome the architecture contained in NatGeo showed the beauty in what man could achieve. The research and grants provide by National Geo has added to the conservation and preservation of the world around us. Thank you National Geographic for giving me my dreams.

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