Ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that would create a new national park to display statues and monuments dedicated to “American Heroes,” including those that have been torn down by protesters in the past month.
The order lists specific criteria and examples of either names of potential persons to be honored or events from which historically significant persons may be honored, such as the “discovery of America” or the “abolition of slavery.” Neither the Confederacy nor the Civil War are mentioned in the order.
In the past month, statues of George Washington, Christopher Columbus, and even Abraham Lincoln have been destroyed, as well as monuments dedicated to abolitionists and Africa-American soldiers. It is these statues and monuments Trump said he wanted to restore and preserve.
“To destroy a monument is to desecrate our common inheritance.
In recent weeks, in the midst of protests across America, many monuments have been vandalized or destroyed. Some local governments have responded by taking their monuments down. Among others, monuments to Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Francis Scott Key, Ulysses S. Grant, leaders of the abolitionist movement, the first all-volunteer African-American regiment of the Union Army in the Civil War, and American soldiers killed in the First and Second World Wars have been vandalized, destroyed, or removed,” Trump’s order stated.
“These statues are not ours alone, to be discarded at the whim of those inflamed by fashionable political passions; they belong to generations that have come before us and to generations yet unborn. My Administration will not abide an assault on our collective national memory. In the face of such acts of destruction, it is our responsibility as Americans to stand strong against this violence, and to peacefully transmit our great national story to future generations through newly commissioned monuments to American heroes,” the order continued.
Trump created a task force to begin searching for a scenic location to build the “National Garden of American Heroes,” a national park that would display statues recreated from those that have been destroyed and highlight others who meet certain criteria. States and localities will also be able to loan statues and monuments to be displayed at the park.
Trump listed the names of some people who should be memorialized in the park, including some well-known conservative figures such as Billy Graham and Antonin Scalia.
“The National Garden should be composed of statues, including statues of John Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Daniel Boone, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Henry Clay, Davy Crockett, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Benjamin Franklin, Billy Graham, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Douglas MacArthur, Dolley Madison, James Madison, Christa McAuliffe, Audie Murphy, George S. Patton, Jr., Ronald Reagan, Jackie Robinson, Betsy Ross, Antonin Scalia, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, George Washington, and Orville and Wilbur Wright,” the order stated.
“Statues should depict historically significant Americans, as that term is defined in section 7 of this order, who have contributed positively to America throughout our history. Examples include: the Founding Fathers, those who fought for the abolition of slavery or participated in the underground railroad, heroes of the United States Armed Forces, recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor or Presidential Medal of Freedom, scientists and inventors, entrepreneurs, civil rights leaders, missionaries and religious leaders, pioneers and explorers, police officers and firefighters killed or injured in the line of duty, labor leaders, advocates for the poor and disadvantaged, opponents of national socialism or international socialism, former Presidents of the United States and other elected officials, judges and justices, astronauts, authors, intellectuals, artists, and teachers.
None will have lived perfect lives, but all will be worth honoring, remembering, and studying,” Trump added.
Priority will be given to “statues of the Founding Fathers, former Presidents of the United States, leading abolitionists, and individuals involved in the discovery of America.”