President Trump signed the Executive Order on Building and Rebuilding Monuments to American Heroes on July 3, the same day he spoke at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. The president described his vision for what he called a National Garden of American Heroes.
The president’s order reads in part:
“To destroy a monument is to desecrate our common inheritance. These statues are not ours alone, to be discarded at the whim of those inflamed by fashionable political passions; they belong to generations that have come before us and to generations yet unborn. It is our responsibility as Americans to stand strong against this violence, and to peacefully transmit our great national story to future generations through newly commissioned monuments to American heroes.”
The order also says the new artwork must be “lifelike or realistic.”
A Controversial Background
Trump promised that Mount Rushmore would never be “defaced” or “desecrated.” While he signed an order protecting federal statues, President Trump said that he could understand individual monuments being taken down. He just wants it to be done legally.
South Dakota — A Good Place to Plant the Garden
Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum chose the four men on the mount for different and vital periods in the nation’s history. George Washington represents the birth of a free country. Thomas Jefferson represents the rapid growth of the young nation. Abraham Lincoln was chosen for preserving the nation, which could have failed after the Civil War. By the turn of the century, Theodore Roosevelt was a crucial figure in the social and environmental development of the United States.
These men represent the America that we know. Trump’s National Garden order lists key figures who shaped the nation: Martin Luther King, Jr., former President Ronald Reagan, baseball legend Jackie Robinson, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, author Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Harriet Tubman. Some others aren’t as well known, but still made great contributions to society. Clara Barton, the Civil War nurse who founded the American Red Cross. The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Aviator Amelia Earhart. Christa McAuliffe, an educator who died as a crew member of the Challenger Space Shuttle.
What better place for a garden of American greats than under the gaze of those four men carved into Mount Rushmore?
Trump’s order explains: “None will have lived perfect lives, but all will be worth honoring, remembering, and studying.”