As a retired career National Park Service employee who served our nation as superintendent of six different park units (including Bryce Canyon National Park), I am appalled and disheartened to watch Donald Trump hold campaign rallies on protected public lands.

National parks are set aside into perpetuity for all U.S. citizens; therefore, no president should use the backdrop of any unit of the National Park System for partisan purposes as he did at Mount Rushmore National Memorial on July 3. In so doing, the NPS and its employees may have been forced to violate the 1939 Hatch Act.

This presidential event denied access to the general public throughout July 3 until the preset hour that ticket holders could enter the amphitheater. The National Park System and the stories it preserves is all of our history — beginning with the world’s first national park (Yellowstone in 1872) and evolving through the decades to include significant historical lessons.

Currently, we are in the midst of a sincere and difficult societal questioning of our unique, diverse and challenged history. Our National Park System serves as an enduring reminder of these events, including the injustices and atrocities committed against citizens.

At Mount Rushmore, Mr. Trump devolved the occasion, a national holiday, into pitting people against each other. The NPS history, along with this specific site provided an honorable story, a legacy of lessons to draw upon for a speech of hope to address present and future concerns.

Why not tell that story while standing beneath four other presidents on the eve of the Fourth of July?

Lisa Eckert, Grand Junction, Colo.