Voices for the Arctic: Stacy Bare

We Are The Arctic, published by Braided River/Mountaineers Books, highlights voices in favor of protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, including that of veteran Stacy Bare.
Mountaineers Books Mountaineers Books
November 09, 2016

 The Mountaineers has a long history of exploring nature’s wildest realms, and now we're doing our best to protect what's left of it.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge  is unique in its vast expanse of uncharted lands, and it represents one our last and greatest connections to this spirit of adventure.  

Spanning 19.6 million acres in the far northeastern corner of Alaska, the Arctic  Refuge is a safe haven for wildlife, the ancestral home of the Gwich'in people, and one of the last places you can truly unplug.  

In 2016, Mountaineers Books published We Are The Arctic. The book's diverse voices and poignant images bring the region to life, and invite readers to join the call for its permanent protection. Your voice can make a difference: visit www.WeAreTheArctic.org and sign the petition.

In the following essay,  veteran Stacy Bare  reflects on what it means to fight for one's country.


 “As soon as you free yourself, you’ll have a better day,” our guide Don Murch said. He was speaking to a group of five veterans, including me, who had spent time in Iraq or

Afghanistan. If we would embrace the cold, icy water on the
tundra, we could instead spend our energy paying attention
to the majesty of our surroundings.

We had all spent time in the armed forces, but for me—and
maybe for the others—this felt like the first time I really understood what it was I had meant, or at least what Congress and the president had meant, by saying we were fighting for our country. This was physically our country. The Arctic held all in one place the best of what our nation’s high-minded philosophy of liberty and justice for all had to offer. 

The freedom was not easily won and the justice could be
cold and, at times, miserable—but I received the just dues
for whatever actions I took. I could walk wherever I wanted
and in any direction I wanted. No one was there to stop me
because of what I believed, who I loved, or the color of my
skin. Every sunset and sunrise greeted our group with equal
beauty. No one got any more or less sunshine unless he ran,
often without luck, to escape a shadow.

There’s beauty and wildness all over our great country, but
nowhere else is it so big and nowhere else is it so whole and
uncut. All the good that remains in the American dream is in
the Arctic.


Read more essays from We Are The Arctic online.

About the Author:  Stacy Bare received the Bronze Star for Merit during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is a 2014 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and a brand ambassador for The North Face and Keen Shoes. Author photo © Zack Bazzi


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