I think that there should be a monument built to commemorate the role that jerky played in westward expansion. Without the nourishment from dried, salted meats explorers would have had a much more difficult time on their long treks west. There are many monuments that speak to the sacrifices made during westward expansion, but none specifically to the role that jerky played. I think the monument should be placed in the Cumberland Gap where Daniel Boone first blazed a trail through the Appalachians, creating one of the first Anglo-European settlements beyond those mountains.
There were many obstacles to the westward expansion. As in all great explorations, one difficulty that arose was how to keep everyone from starving to death. Throughout time dried, salted meats have been pivotal in exploration because they provided a way for meat to be preserved for a long period of time. Meat provides essential protein and nutrients needed for the strenuous journey through the wilderness. Jerky has been important to exploration for many centuries, but I think that this monument should focus on Daniel Boone and his passage through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky.
The monument should be placed on the Wilderness Trail—the trail that follows the gap through the mountains—to signify the importance of opening up the road west. The focus, however, is on the dried meat so the monument itself should be of Daniel Boone gazing out over the frontier enjoying some delicious jerky. It should be made of locally quarried stone so that it will not be an eyesore in the surrounding natural beauty. Daniel should be dressed in historically accurate attire with his hand shielding the light from above. In his other hand, he should be holding a piece of jerky while he tears it apart with his teeth. There will also be a plaque that explains what the monument is all about.
“This monument was erected in 2009 to commemorate the pivotal role of jerky to the expansion westward. It was imperative to be able to carry meat that wouldn’t spoil to feed the hungry explorers as they bravely widened the Wilderness Trail through the Cumberland Gap to make it easier for the settlers that followed. Here you see the esteemed Daniel Boone gazing to the frontier ahead. He is enjoying some delicious jerky. This is probably venison jerky as deer are plentiful in these woods.”
I believe that the monument would technically be a national monument because the area in which it should be placed is a National Historical Park. The funding, however, could be raised privately. I would certainly enjoy contributing to such a great landmark, as would other jerky enthusiasts that I know. Also, with some artfully placed advertising I believe we could raise funds from jerky producing companies such as Jack’s Links. Perhaps they could sponsor the monument.
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