An array of historical monuments and statues have been targeted for removal or destruction in recent weeks amid widespread protests over racial injustice.
As part of his speech at Mount Rushmore on Thursday, President Donald Trump reiterated his zero-tolerance approach to vandalism before announcing plans to create a new “National Garden of American Heroes,” as the Washington Examiner reported. As detailed in the order, the list of American heroes who will be honored in the garden includes famous figures such as Ronald Reagan, John Adams, Dolley Madison, and Frederick Douglass.
“A new monument to the giants”
Protesters and officials across the country have called for certain memorials to be removed from public property, starting as a movement largely focused on Confederate generals.
Some demonstrations have turned destructive, though, with statues honoring a variety of historical figures toppled or destroyed.
“So today, under the authority vested in me as president of the United States, I am announcing the creation of a new monument to the giants of our past,” the president told a crowd gathered for his speech this week.
Asserting that the “past is always at risk of being forgotten,” the order — released a short time after his remarks on Thursday — stressed that “monuments will always be needed to honor those who came before.”
“Silent teachers in solid form”
The declaration goes on to describe the monuments in the new park as “silent teachers in solid form of stone and metal” that “preserve the memory of our American story and stir in us a spirit of responsibility for the chapters yet unwritten.”
In addition to reiterating the president’s case for the statue park, the order also established a “Task Force for Building and Rebuilding Monuments to American Heroes,” which is to be chaired by the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
List of heroes
Finally, the order included a list of the Americans chosen to be honored in the forthcoming garden.
“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” will be featured, according to the order.
The list, while not exhaustive, should give Americans of all stripes something behind which they can unite. Of course, given the current level of division in the country, the move is likely to attract continued criticism from the president’s political foes.