During his Mount Rushmore speech on Friday, Donald Trump said he signed an executive order to create a “National Garden of American Heroes” which will feature statues of famous Americans.
It’s the president’s response to the mob action in tearing down statues of American icons like Andrew Jackson and George Washington. The executive order reads:
These statues are silent teachers in solid form of stone and metal. They preserve the memory of our American story and stir in us a spirit of responsibility for the chapters yet unwritten. These works of art call forth gratitude for the accomplishments and sacrifices of our exceptional fellow citizens who, despite their flaws, placed their virtues, their talents, and their lives in the service of our Nation.
Section 1 of the order lays out the purpose: that we owe our “present greatness to its past sacrifices” and since “the past is always at risk of being forgotten, monuments will always be needed to honor those who came before.” The order points out that the Virginia legislature honored George Washington with a monument in 1784, realizing even then the value of his service.
In our public parks and plazas, we have erected statues of great Americans who, through acts of wisdom and daring, built and preserved for us a republic of ordered liberty.
Not so “ordered” now, which is the reason for the executive order.
To destroy a monument is to desecrate our common inheritance. In recent weeks, in the midst of protests across America, many monuments have been vandalized or destroyed. Some local governments have responded by taking their monuments down. Among others, monuments to Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Francis Scott Key, Ulysses S. Grant, leaders of the abolitionist movement, the first all-volunteer African-American regiment of the Union Army in the Civil War, and American soldiers killed in the First and Second World Wars have been vandalized, destroyed, or removed.
To accomplish the task of creating the garden, the president has named an interagency task force, headed by the Interior secretary, to draw together those in government, in the arts and humanities, and preservationists to guide the effort. Within 60 days, the president wants some kind of plan, including recommendations about where the garden should be located.
Interestingly, Trump is going to invite local and state governments to contribute to the garden.
(iii) consider the availability of authority to encourage and accept the donation or loan of statues by States, localities, civic organizations, businesses, religious organizations, and individuals, for display at the National Garden.
The list of “heroes” is partial, but revealing.
The National Garden should be composed of statues, including statues of John Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Daniel Boone, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Henry Clay, Davy Crockett, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Benjamin Franklin, Billy Graham, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Douglas MacArthur, Dolley Madison, James Madison, Christa McAuliffe, Audie Murphy, George S. Patton, Jr., Ronald Reagan, Jackie Robinson, Betsy Ross, Antonin Scalia, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, George Washington, and Orville and Wilbur Wright.
It’s going to be a lot of fun watching liberals try to add their own “heroes” to the garden.
But that’s one reason this garden will not open in our lifetime. And the challenge to the mob is so direct that if it did open, the statues would need an army of park police to guard it.
No matter. The idea is the proper response to vandals and other barbarians who seek to tear down the past and destroy it.