Donald Trump appeared at Mount Rushmore in the middle of a pandemic last year for a Fourth of July celebration that, of course, doubled as a campaign stop in his attempt to win a second term as president. Trump didn’t win the election, but back in July he did make a bold declaration that he would create a “garden” of statues celebrating America at Mount Rushmore.
Fast-forward past a months-long attempt to undo that election and a deadly attempt by his supporters to overthrow the American government and we are finally reaching the end of Trump’s time in office. But before he goes, Trump made good on that promise to make a very bizarre statuary garden featuring an extremely dissonant set of names.
According to the executive order, America is under attack by “dangerous anti-American extremism,” though it was not made clear if it’s Trump’s own MAGA coup attempt he helped incite at the capitol a fortnight ago. In response to that perceived threat, Trump says the “National Garden Of American Heroes” will fight that by giving artists a lot of sculpting work in the years to come.
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. 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. America responded to the razing of the White House by building it back in the same place with unbroken resolve, to the murders of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., with a national temple and the Stone of Hope, and to the terrorism of 9/11 with a new Freedom Tower. 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.
This makes it clear that the garden is not a response to the failed MAGA coup attempt he incited, but instead the removal of confederate monuments in recent months, a sticking point for Trump and his followers who seem intent to celebrate another failed insurrection. But disturbing as that may be, the sheer number of statues and the weirdness of them all together in the same place is what many focused on when the names were released.
For the record, here is the full list as put together in the executive order:
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.
That’s, uh, a lot of names, ranging from Canadian-born Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek to not one, not two, but three Adams, Wrights, Roosevelts and Washingtons. It’s an overwhelmingly silly list of people, quite frankly, put together in response to something equally absurd. Which is why there were a lot of jokes made about certain statues interacting in this still-hypothetical garden.
It's like he just typed "American heroes" into Google https://t.co/eOGieNYhgG
— Tabatha Southey (@TabathaSouthey) January 18, 2021
Did he … did he draw names at random out of a hat? pic.twitter.com/DLzXVt40PR
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 18, 2021
I paid Rudy Giuliani $500,000 of my own money to get Ty Wigginton into The Statue Garden Of Heroes and this is how I find out he's not on the fucking list. https://t.co/d8fVRAHyRk
— David Roth (@david_j_roth) January 18, 2021
put the marlins home run statue in the presidential garden
— Patrick Cosmos (@veryimportant) January 18, 2021
People were VERY confused about German philosopher Hannah Arendt making the cut.
Just still trying to work through that one of Donald Trump's last actions in office will be to try to mandate the construction of a statue of Hannah Arendt
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) January 18, 2021
Someone put Hannah Arendt there as a joke. He has no clue who she was. https://t.co/83YioeGnVD
— digby (@digby56) January 18, 2021
In any event, congratulations to Mount Rushmore, which gets to disrupt even more of nature to honor the whims of a man desperate to get his face carved next to the presidents there. It’s unlikely a president impeached twice in four years will get that honor, but at least Kobe Bryant, Julia Child and Dr. Seuss will get to hang out there together now.