Even on his way out, President Donald Trump found a way to pay lasting tribute to America’s heroes.
In one of his final executive orders before leaving office this week, the president revised a previous order and updated the progress on statues to be built for the National Garden of American Heroes. Trump released a list of figures who will be recognized with a statue months after the wave of attacks on the nation’s monuments during violent protests that erupted across U.S. cities.
“The chronicles of our history show that America is a land of heroes. As I announced during my address at Mount Rushmore, the gates of a beautiful new garden will soon open to the public where the legends of America’s past will be remembered,” Trump said in his executive order issued Monday.
“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,” he noted.
“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 president lamented, referring to the attacks that began as a backlash to Confederate monuments.
“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 said.
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) January 18, 2021
Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May, amid protests and riots that continued for months across the nation’s cities, vandals set upon and damaged monuments of America’s greatest leaders, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. Statues were toppled, covered in paint and broken, as attacks on Civil War figures soon spread and even included freed slave Frederick Douglass.
“The National Garden is America’s answer to this reckless attempt to erase our heroes, values, and entire way of life. On its grounds, the devastation and discord of the moment will be overcome with abiding love of country and lasting patriotism,” Trump continued in his order.
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“This is the American way. When the forces of anti-Americanism have sought to burn, tear down, and destroy, patriots have built, rebuilt, and lifted up. That is our history,” he added. “In keeping with this tradition, America is responding to the tragic toppling of monuments to our founding generation and the giants of our past by commencing a new national project for their restoration, veneration, and celebration.”
The “roll call of heroes” includes America’s Founders, such as Washington, Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, among others. Other founding figures such as Betsy Ross, Patrick Henry, Francis Scott Key, Paul Revere and others are also included in the list.
Christopher Columbus, William Penn, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass will also be honored as will Civil Rights leaders like Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks.
The Garden will include great American artists, inventors, explorers, authors, sports figures — including late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant — film stars, as well as military members and U.S. presidents.
“In short, each individual has been chosen for embodying the American spirit of daring and defiance, excellence and adventure, courage and confidence, loyalty and love,” Trump noted. “Astounding the world by the sheer power of their example, each one of them has contributed indispensably to America’s noble history, the best chapters of which are still to come.”
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