Trump announces plans to create national garden honoring “greatest Americans to ever live”

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U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for the Independence Day events at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota.
SAUL LOEB/GETTY IMAGES

(CBS) — During his remarks at Mount Rushmore on Friday evening, President Trump said he plans to establish, via executive order, a “National Garden of American Heroes,” which he described as “a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans to ever live.”

“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,” Trump said.

“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,” the executive order said.

“My Administration will not abide by an assault on our collective national memory,” the order added. “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 mandates the creation of a task force, which will develop plans for creating the garden. The garden will be available for public access by no later than July 4, 2026, according to the order.

The garden will include, but is not limited to, 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 said.

Trump spent much of his speech railing against protesters who have opposed some current monuments. “Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children,” he said, drawing boos from the crowd.

“Their goal is not a better America. Their goal is to end America,” he said. “In its place, they want power for themselves. But just as patriots did in centuries past, the American people will stand in their way and we will win and win quickly and with great dignity.”

Trump’s event drew concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, as several states have seen a serious uptick in cases in recent weeks. Several tribes in the region raised concerns about the event leading to an outbreak of the virus, as Native American communities have been particularly ravaged by COVID-19.

“The president is putting our tribal members at risk to stage a photo op at one of our most sacred sites,” Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, told the Associated Press.

Just before Trump spoke at the event, CBS News confirmed that Kimberly Guilfoyle, a senior Trump campaign official and Donald Trump Jr’s girlfriend, tested positive for the coronavirus.

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