In Donald Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore on July 3, he announced that he was creating a ‘national garden’ full of ‘statues of American heroes’, but Twitter users weren’t impressed.
President Donald Trump, addressed the strength of America in his speech and revealed that he is creating a “national garden” that will feature statues of American “heroes”, which brought on a lot of Twitter reactions that poked fun at the project while others urged him to make it about the large impact of COVID-19. “Won’t do anything about the Coronavirus, but will build a park of statues,” one Twitter user wrote while another joked that “The National Garden Of American Heroes” will feature “Kid Rock, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and Ted Nugent.”
The National Garden of American Heroes: Kid Rock, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and Ted Nugent.
— Will Harris (@NonStopPop) July 4, 2020
“How about a national garden dedicated to all the Americans lost to COVID-19? #ExecutiveOrder,” another tweet read while a third asked, “The national garden of American heroes? WTH is this trivial sh*t? How about focusing on a pandemic that has already killed >129,000 Americans.” Another user got sarcastic when they wrote, “Just what Americans need right now: a statue park.”
In addition to announcing the future park, Trump talked about the various important monuments throughout the country, including Mount Rushmore, and vowed that it will “never be desecrated” like some of the other monuments that have been vandalized in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement. “Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our fore fathers and to our freedom,” he told the cheering crowd before addressing the “angry” people who have tried to “tear down statues” and “cancel culture.”
Won’t do anything about the Coronavirus, but will build a park of statues. https://t.co/XzkzkucMhG
— Dan of Ritz-Carlton Sprinklers (@JakesForLuck) July 4, 2020
“Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders … The American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country and all of its values, history, and culture to be taken from them,” he continued. “One of their political weapons is cancel culture… that is the very definition of totalitarianism. It has no place in the United States of America.”
Once Trump’s speech concluded, fireworks were set to explode over Mount Rushmore for the first time in a decade after they were banned during the Obama administration amid environmental concerns. Trump, who continuously pushed for a revival of the display, gave his speech with the looming presence of 60-foot-tall granite faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt looking down on him, and he made sure to mention each one of them during his time on the podium.
Just what Americans need rights now: a statue park
— Kassevy (@kassevy) July 4, 2020
He told stories about the background of each president on Mount Rushmore and how they contributed to the rich history of America, and he went on to mention various other Americans, both political and non-political, who have also made a big impact in the country.
Despite 91 people dying in South Dakota of COVID-19, the event was attended by over 7000 spectators without means of social distancing. Aside from the ongoing pandemic, there were also concerns of natural disaster caused by the fireworks display. The National Park Service determined that there were at least 27 wildfires started around Mount Rushmore during 1998 and 2009.
The service also noted that “July fire danger risk can be high to very high” in the Black Hills, which is currently experiencing a drought. Despite Trump’s protest that it was just “rock,” the monument is surrounded by the Ponderosa pine forest with ample vegetation on the ground. There’s an even more disturbing component to Trump’s tribute at play. The event, intended to commemorate American independence, took place on Lakota Sioux land without permission of the tribes that own it.
Native Americans have accused Trump and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem of breaking the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, which recognizes Mount Rushmore and the land that surrounds it as part of “the Great Sioux Reservation, set aside for exclusive use by the Sioux people.” A 1980 Supreme Court ruling confirmed that the treaty is binding.
“We’re at a time in this country where there’s a reckoning and a realization that this country has to get right with its history,” Nick Tilsen, a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation and president of NDN Collective told NPR. “That’s why this is not just a historical injustice that has happened — it’s illuminating the current injustices that exist today in society.” Trump’s Independence Day event was greeted with protesters from the Lakota Nation as a result.