National Garden of American Heroes

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President Trump announcing the garden proposal during South Dakota's Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration on July 3, 2020.

The National Garden of American Heroes was a proposed sculpture garden honoring "great figures of America's history" that was proposed by President Donald Trump in executive orders on July 3, 2020, and January 18, 2021.[1] Trump first announced the idea at an Independence Day event at Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota.[2][3][4] The sculpture garden idea was part of a series of executive orders issued by Trump in his final months in office to address conservative cultural grievances; the second of the two executive orders was issued two days before Trump's term expired.[4] Congress never appropriated funding for such a garden,[5] nor were concrete steps ever taken to construct such a site.[4] President Joe Biden revoked the executive orders relating to the garden in May 2021.[4][6]

Trump's vision for the garden included statues of notable Founding Fathers, activists, political figures, businesspeople, athletes, celebrities, and pop culture icons.[4][7][3][8][9] The premise of the proposal and the selection of statues to be erected was questioned by historians and scholars, who described it as random and scattershot.[10][11][12]

Trump executive orders[edit]

Trump's order said that the proposed garden would be managed by the Task Force for Building and Rebuilding Monuments to American Heroes, which would allocate funding from the Interior Department to establish the site. Members of the task force would include chairs of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, the Administrator of General Services, the chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and any additional "officers or employees of any executive department or agency" designated by the president.[13] Trump described the garden as a response to the practice of removing monuments and memorials to Confederate figures and others; many such monuments were removed or destroyed in 2020 as part of a response to the George Floyd protests.[2][13] In his Mount Rushmore speech announcing the proposal, Trump claimed that "Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities" and pledged to build "a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans to ever live."[12]

Under Trump's Executive Order 13934, issued July 3, 2020, the task force was granted 60 days to develop preliminary plans for the site, including a potential location,[14] and was to open before July 4, 2026, the 250th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.[13]

The original executive order listed 31 historical figures as examples of those who would receive a statue in the Garden.[1] On January 18, 2021—two days before leaving office—Trump signed a new executive order (Executive Order 13978) listing 244 historical figures, including all 31 previously named, of those who would receive statues.[15][16][17][18][19] The revised list included 192 men and 52 women.[11]

Reception by historians[edit]

Historians questioned the scattershot nature of Trump's proposal; James R. Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association, said that "The choices vary from odd to probably inappropriate to provocative" and suggested that the proposal was an attempt by Trump to "to seize on a cultural conflict to distract from other issues" during an election season, as suggested by the short (60-day) timetable that Trump set forth in his order.[12] Historian Karen Cox described the executive order about the proposed monument as "random" and said that "Nothing about this suggests it's thoughtful."[12] Historian Adam Domby noted Trump's initial list included no Native Americans, and included George Patton but omitted Dwight D. Eisenhower.[12]

The premise of Trump's proposal was criticized by historian Michael Beschloss, who wrote that "No president of the United States or federal government has any business dictating to citizens who our historical heroes should be. This is not Stalin's Russia. Any American who loves democracy should make sure there is never some official, totalitarian-sounding 'National Garden of American Heroes,' with names forced upon us by the federal government."[11][20]

Revocation of executive orders[edit]

The garden was considered highly unlikely to be built, and Congress never appropriated any funds for the project.[5] On May 14, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order that revoked both of Trump's executive orders on the Garden, as well as various other Trump-issued executive orders.[4][6][21]

Proposed statues[edit]

The original executive order listed 31 historical figures as examples of those who would receive a statue in the Garden.[1] On January 18, 2021—two days before leaving office—Trump signed a new executive order listing 244 historical figures, including all 31 previously named, of those who would receive statues.[22][23][24][25] The revised list included 192 men and 52 women.[11] Names marked with an asterisk (*) were included in the original executive order.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Executive Order on Building and Rebuilding Monuments to American Heroes". The White House. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Klein, Betsy (July 4, 2020). "Trump uses Mount Rushmore address to rail against removal of monuments". CNN.
  3. ^ a b "The Latest: Trump to Establish 'National Garden' of Heroes". The New York Times. Associated Press. July 3, 2020. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Nick Niedzwiadek, Biden kills Trump's sculpture garden of 'American heroes', Politico (May 14, 2021).
  5. ^ a b Barbara Sprunt, I Beg Your Garden? Trump Adds 'Hero' Names To Statue Garden Unlikely To Take Root, NPR (January 18, 2021).
  6. ^ a b Zeke Miller. "Biden cancels Trump's planned 'Garden of American Heroes'". Associated Press. Retrieved May 14, 2021.
  7. ^ "Trump announces plans to create national garden honoring "greatest Americans to ever live"". CBS News. July 4, 2020.
  8. ^ "Trump to establish 'National Garden' of heroes". KY3.com. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
  9. ^ "Amid furor over monuments, Trump seeks 'garden' of US heroes". Associated Press. July 4, 2020. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
  10. ^ Hero Statue Nominations For President Donald Trump’s National Garden Of American Heroes Are In, CBS Local Pittsburg (August 31, 2020).
  11. ^ a b c d Alberti, Danielle, Trump's "American Heroes" are 73% men, Axios, January 19, 2021
  12. ^ a b c d e William Wan, Historians question Trump's choice of 'heroes' for national garden monument, Washington Post (July 4, 2020).
  13. ^ a b c Axelrod, Tal (July 3, 2020). "Trump responds to calls to tear down monuments with creation of 'National Garden' of statues". TheHill. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
  14. ^ "Trump orders creation of 'national heroes' garden". BBC News. July 4, 2020. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
  15. ^ Trump, Donald. "Executive Order on Building the National Garden of American Heroes". The White House. Retrieved January 20, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ Pengelly, Martin (January 18, 2021). "Trump orders creation of 'Garden of American Heroes' amid backlash over monuments". The Guardian. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  17. ^ E.O. 13978 of January 18, 2021, 86 Fed. Reg. 6809,
  18. ^ Brehm, Mike (January 18, 2021). "Muhammad Ali, Vince Lombardi among sports figures in Donald Trump's National Garden of American Heroes". USA Today. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  19. ^ Dorman, Sam (January 18, 2021). "Trump National Garden order includes statues of Whitney Houston, Kobe Bryant, Vince Lombardi, Frank Sinatra". Fox News. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  20. ^ Beschloss, Michael [@BeschlossDC] (January 26, 2021). "Any American who loves democracy should make sure there is never some Trumpy "National Garden of American Heroes," with names forced on us by federal government. No President has any business dictating to citizens who our historical heroes should be. This is not Stalin's Russia" (Tweet). Retrieved February 20, 2022 – via Twitter.
  21. ^ Executive Order on the Revocation of Certain Presidential Actions and Technical Amendment (May 14, 2021).
  22. ^ Trump, Donald. "Executive Order on Building the National Garden of American Heroes". The White House. Retrieved January 20, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ Pengelly, Martin (January 18, 2021). "Trump orders creation of 'Garden of American Heroes' amid backlash over monuments". The Guardian. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  24. ^ Brehm, Mike (January 18, 2021). "Muhammad Ali, Vince Lombardi among sports figures in Donald Trump's National Garden of American Heroes". USA Today. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  25. ^ Dorman, Sam (January 18, 2021). "Trump National Garden order includes statues of Whitney Houston, Kobe Bryant, Vince Lombardi, Frank Sinatra". Fox News. Retrieved January 18, 2021.