Amid furor over monuments, Trump seeks `garden’ of US heroes

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump includes a vision for his 2nd term, if he wins one, of establishing a “National Garden of American Heroes” which will pay tribute to some of the most prominent figures in U.S. history, a group of “the greatest Americans to ever live.”

His idea, conveyed in a speech Friday night at Mount Rushmore and expanded on in an executive order, comes as elected officials and institutions are reckoning with whether it is appropriate to continue to honor people, including past presidents, who benefited from slavery or espoused racist views, with monuments or buildings and streets named after them.

Absent from Trump’s initial list are any Native American or Hispanic individuals. The White House and Interior Department declined to touch upon how the list was assembled.

To be certain, the monument is far from a done deal and Trump’s plan could possibly be dashed if presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden denies him another term in November.

It includes George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., all already represented on or near the National Mall in Washington, along side Susan B. Anthony, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Billy Graham, Douglas MacArthur, Christa McAuliffe, Jackie Robinson, Betsy Ross, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington and Orville and Wilbur Wright.

But Trump is looking to put an ideological stamp on the idea of American greatness with the inclusion of conservative stalwart Antonin Scalia, the late Supreme Court Justice.

The group of 30-plus features Founding Fathers and presidents, civil rights pioneers and aviation innovators, explorers and generals.

Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly condemned the desecration and toppling of historic statues by demonstrators throughout protests over racial injustice and police brutality following a death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“We will raise the next generation of American patriots,” Trump said at Mount Rushmore. “We will write the next thrilling chapter of the American adventure. And we will teach our children to know that they live in a land of legends, that nothing can stop them, and that no one can hold them down.”

His executive order says the garden should open before July 4, 2024, and that he leaves it up to a federal task force to make tips about the use of federal money and a proposed site. The order specifies “a site of natural beauty” that’s near one or more major populace center.

The order says priority should be fond of monuments to former presidents, to individuals and events relating to the discovery of America, the founding of the United States, and the abolition of slavery. “None will have lived perfect lives, but all will be worth honoring, remembering, and studying,” based on the order.

The order includes language to make clear that non-U.S. citizens who played significant roles in American history also could be honored in the garden.

As examples of individuals who made substantive contributions to America’s public life or otherwise had a substantive effect on America’s history, it cites: Italian explorer Christopher Columbus; Junipero Serra, a Roman Catholic priest who established Spanish missions in California; and the Marquis de La Fayette, a French officer who fought in the American Revolutionary War.

A statue of Columbus, who has been criticized for brutal treatment of Native Americans, was removed this past week from away from city hall in Columbus, Ohio. Last month, protesters toppled a statue of Serra in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Some historians say that Serra, who was canonized by the Catholic Church, had a mixed history that included him acting as an agent of the Spanish Empire’s colonization efforts in the 18th Century.

Trump on Friday again lashed out against a “left-wing cultural revolution” that he says is teaching American kids “that the men and women who built” the country “were not heroes, but that were villains.”

“The radical view of American history is a web of lies — all perspective is removed, every virtue is obscured, every motive is twisted, every fact is distorted, and every flaw is magnified until the history is purged and the record is disfigured beyond all recognition,” Trump said.

Source link