On Monday, President Donald Trump released his list of statues for the National Garden of American Heroes — a fitting and powerful response to the wave of vandalism against statues of American heroes following the death of George Floyd in police custody.
“Across this Nation, belief in the greatness and goodness of America has come under attack in recent months and years by a dangerous anti-American extremism that seeks to dismantle our country’s history, institutions, and very identity,” Trump warned in his executive order.
“The heroes of 1776 have been desecrated, with statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin vandalized and toppled. The dead who gave their lives to end slavery and save the Union during the Civil War have been dishonored, with monuments to Abraham Lincoln, Hans Christian Heg, and the courageous 54th Regiment left damaged and disfigured. The brave warriors who saved freedom from Nazi fascism have been disgraced with a memorial to World War II veterans defaced with the hammer and sickle of Soviet communism,” Trump lamented.
Indeed, while the attacks on statues began with Confederate monuments, vandals defaced and toppled monuments commemorating America’s heroes, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. Then came Mahatma Gandhi, Union General Ulysses S. Grant, black Union soldiers, and freed slave Frederick Douglass. Vandals even attacked a monument to 9/11 firefighters and painted a statue of Jesus black. Cities began removing statues of Christopher Columbus in the lead-up to Columbus Day.
The president framed his National Garden as the fitting “answer to this reckless attempt to erase our heroes, values, and entire way of life. … When the forces of anti-Americanism have sought to burn, tear down, and destroy, patriots have built, rebuilt, and lifted up.”
He released a comprehensive list (below) of every figure who will receive a statue in the garden. Particularly noteworthy figures include:
- American Founders: President John Adams, Samuel Adams, Charles Carroll (the lone Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence), Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Caesar Rodney, and George Washington.
- Notable Founding-era figures: Marquis de Lafayette, Crispus Attucks (who died in Boston Massacre), Nathan Hale, Betsy Ross, Patrick Henry, Francis Scott Key, Pierre Charles L’Enfant, painter Charles Willson Peale, and Paul Revere.
- Pre-Founding Figures: Christopher Columbus, William Penn (after whom Pennsylvania is named), Junipero Serra, and John Winthrop.
- Abolitionists: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Mott, and Frederick Douglass.
- Civil Rights leaders: Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks,
- Artists: Louis Armstrong, Irving Berlin, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
- Inventors: Alexander Graham Bell, Samuel Colt, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Johns Hopkins, Edwin Hubble, Samuel Morse, Norman Borlaug, and Nikola Tesla.
- Explorers and adventurers: Daniel Boone, Buffalo Bill Cody, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Meriwether Lewis, and William Clark.
- Native Americans: Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Sacagawea, and Tecumseh.
- Novelists and poets: James Fennimore Cooper (The Last of the Mohicans), Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, Harper Lee, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
- Presidents: Grover Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight David Eisenhower, Ulysses S. Grant, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Harry S. Truman.
- Soldiers: Desmond Doss (WWII soldier), Douglas MacArthur, George Marshall (soldier to Army Chief of Staff during WWII), George S. Patton Jr., Matthew Ridgway, and Alvin C. York.
- Astronauts: Neil Armstrong and John Glenn.
- Conservative authors: William F. Buckley, Jr., Whittaker Chambers, Milton Friedman, and Russell Kirk.
- Historic baseball players: Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, and Babe Ruth.
- Supreme Court justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Thurgood Marshall, and Antonin Scalia.
- Screen giants: Charlton Heston, Alfred Hitchcock, Bob Hope, Alex Trebek, and John Wayne.
- Pastors: Jonathan Edwards and Billy Graham.
- Iconic American women: Susan B. Anthony, Dorothy Day, Amelia Earhart, Clare Boothe Luce, and Annie Oakley.
These heroes represent key features of American history and culture. Each of them belongs in the National Garden of American Heroes.
Trump is correct: Celebrating America’s heroes is a fitting response to the tragic attacks on America’s memory over the summer. Not only did rioters vandalize and topple statues but The New York Times launched the “1619 Project” to redefine American history, claiming that the arrival of some slaves in Jamestown in 1619 was the “true founding” of America, rather than the Declaration of Independence in 1776. This narrative paints America as fundamentally racist and oppressive.
While the United States has not always lived up to its ideals, the men and women on Trump’s list represent America’s attempts to live up to the promise of the Declaration of Independence. Here’s hoping incoming President Joe Biden doesn’t block the construction of this important monument to America’s past.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.
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Here’s the full list:
The National Garden should be composed of statues, including statues of Ansel Adams, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Muhammad Ali, Luis Walter Alvarez, Susan B. Anthony, Hannah Arendt, Louis Armstrong, Neil Armstrong, Crispus Attucks, John James Audubon, Lauren Bacall, Clara Barton, Todd Beamer, Alexander Graham Bell, Roy Benavidez, Ingrid Bergman, Irving Berlin, Humphrey Bogart, Daniel Boone, Norman Borlaug, William Bradford, Herb Brooks, Kobe Bryant, William F. Buckley, Jr., Sitting Bull, Frank Capra, Andrew Carnegie, Charles Carroll, John Carroll, George Washington Carver, Johnny Cash, Joshua Chamberlain, Whittaker Chambers, Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman, Ray Charles, Julia Child, Gordon Chung-Hoon, William Clark, Henry Clay, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Roberto Clemente, Grover Cleveland, Red Cloud, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Nat King Cole, Samuel Colt, Christopher Columbus, Calvin Coolidge, James Fenimore Cooper, Davy Crockett, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., Miles Davis, Dorothy Day, Joseph H. De Castro, Emily Dickinson, Walt Disney, William “Wild Bill” Donovan, Jimmy Doolittle, Desmond Doss, Frederick Douglass, Herbert Henry Dow, Katharine Drexel, Peter Drucker, Amelia Earhart, Thomas Edison, Jonathan Edwards, Albert Einstein, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Duke Ellington, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Medgar Evers, David Farragut, the Marquis de La Fayette, Mary Fields, Henry Ford, George Fox, Aretha Franklin, Benjamin Franklin, Milton Friedman, Robert Frost, Gabby Gabreski, Bernardo de Gálvez, Lou Gehrig, Theodor Seuss Geisel, Cass Gilbert, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Glenn, Barry Goldwater, Samuel Gompers, Alexander Goode, Carl Gorman, Billy Graham, Ulysses S. Grant, Nellie Gray, Nathanael Greene, Woody Guthrie, Nathan Hale, William Frederick “Bull” Halsey, Jr., Alexander Hamilton, Ira Hayes, Hans Christian Heg, Ernest Hemingway, Patrick Henry, Charlton Heston, Alfred Hitchcock, Billie Holiday, Bob Hope, Johns Hopkins, Grace Hopper, Sam Houston, Whitney Houston, Julia Ward Howe, Edwin Hubble, Daniel Inouye, Andrew Jackson, Robert H. Jackson, Mary Jackson, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, Steve Jobs, Katherine Johnson, Barbara Jordan, Chief Joseph, Elia Kazan, Helen Keller, John F. Kennedy, Francis Scott Key, Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King, Jr., Russell Kirk, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Henry Knox, Tadeusz Kościuszko, Harper Lee, Pierre Charles L’Enfant, Meriwether Lewis, Abraham Lincoln, Vince Lombardi, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Clare Boothe Luce, Douglas MacArthur, Dolley Madison, James Madison, George Marshall, Thurgood Marshall, William Mayo, Christa McAuliffe, William McKinley, Louise McManus, Herman Melville, Thomas Merton, George P. Mitchell, Maria Mitchell, William “Billy” Mitchell, Samuel Morse, Lucretia Mott, John Muir, Audie Murphy, Edward Murrow, John Neumann, Annie Oakley, Jesse Owens, Rosa Parks, George S. Patton, Jr., Charles Willson Peale, William Penn, Oliver Hazard Perry, John J. Pershing, Edgar Allan Poe, Clark Poling, John Russell Pope, Elvis Presley, Jeannette Rankin, Ronald Reagan, Walter Reed, William Rehnquist, Paul Revere, Henry Hobson Richardson, Hyman Rickover, Sally Ride, Matthew Ridgway, Jackie Robinson, Norman Rockwell, Caesar Rodney, Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Betsy Ross, Babe Ruth, Sacagawea, Jonas Salk, John Singer Sargent, Antonin Scalia, Norman Schwarzkopf, Junípero Serra, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Robert Gould Shaw, Fulton Sheen, Alan Shepard, Frank Sinatra, Margaret Chase Smith, Bessie Smith, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jimmy Stewart, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Gilbert Stuart, Anne Sullivan, William Howard Taft, Maria Tallchief, Maxwell Taylor, Tecumseh, Kateri Tekakwitha, Shirley Temple, Nikola Tesla, Jefferson Thomas, Henry David Thoreau, Jim Thorpe, Augustus Tolton, Alex Trebek, Harry S. Truman, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Dorothy Vaughan, C. T. Vivian, John von Neumann, Thomas Ustick Walter, Sam Walton, Booker T. Washington, George Washington, John Washington, John Wayne, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Phillis Wheatley, Walt Whitman, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Roger Williams, John Winthrop, Frank Lloyd Wright, Orville Wright, Wilbur Wright, Alvin C. York, Cy Young, and Lorenzo de Zavala.”